The Hospital of Central Connecticut offers a variety of services and technologies to diagnose cardiac conditions and monitor the effectiveness of treatments.
Echocardiography. This painless, safe, noninvasive test can be performed at the hospital bedside or as an outpatient procedure. An echocardiogram uses high frequency sound waves to provide a picture of the contracting heart, its valves and blood flow through the heart. Since sound waves travel poorly through bone, lung and thick chest walls, ultrasonic examination may be difficult in certain people. These patients may have a transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE), which uses a special probe passed into the esophagus so that an ultrasonic picture of the heart can be obtained without interference from the lungs or ribcage.
EKG. The electrocardiogram (EKG) is the most common, noninvasive exam to assess heart function. It provides information about the heart’s rate, rhythm and electrical activity. Each electrocardiogram is reviewed and interpreted by a board-certified cardiologist.
Holter monitoring. This uses a lightweight, portable monitor to record an electrocardiogram for 24 hours while the patient goes about his or her normal day. This study can be useful in diagnosing abnormal heart rhythms. If abnormal heart rhythm symptoms occur infrequently, the patient may have ambulatory arrhythmia monitoring, which allows several weeks of continuous monitoring.
PET-CT scanning. This combines positron emission tomography (PET), which detects chemical activities that can show certain heart conditions; and CT scanning, which shows heart and blood vessel structure. PET-CT scans are used to evaluate arterial blockages associated with coronary artery disease and the heart pumping function. For the scan, patients will receive an injection of a tracer material that is carried to the heart.
Tilt table evaluation. A number of heart conditions can cause syncope, or fainting. The tilt table test can assist in determining the cause. Lying on a tilt table, the patient is moved from a flat to a standing position while blood pressure, heart rate, heart rhythm and patient symptoms are monitored. Changes in blood pressure, heart rate and the presence of symptoms can help to establish the cause of syncope or determine if further testing is needed.
Stress testing. This non-invasive test can:
- Screen people for heart disease
- Determine how well the heart is functioning
- Evaluate people with chest pain
- Evaluate results of angioplasty or heart surgery
- Clear people for strenuous work or exercise programs
The test is performed on a treadmill with the amount of effort gradually increasing. Blood pressure, pulse and electrocardiogram are monitored throughout. A pharmacologic stress test uses medication rather than exercise to increase heart rate or blood flow.
Nuclear stress testing. During this type of stress testing, a radioactive substance is used to identify or evaluate cardiac abnormalities. These studies are useful in detecting the size and location of heart damage or decreased blood flow to the heart.