Heart and Vascular Tests

Heart and vascular tests are performed to determine whether or not your symptoms are arising from underlying cardiovascular disease. Explore here to view some of the most commonly ordered testing in cardiovascular disease. Click on a topic to learn more.

Ankle/brachial index
Ankle/brachial index test is a commonly performed office based test used to detect the presence of peripheral arterial disease. Blood pressure is obtained in the arms and the legs and a ratio between the two is obtained to determine if it is abnormal or abnormal.
Blood pressure
The blood pressure test is a commonly and routinely performed measurement to determine the presence or absence of high blood pressure
Blood tests
Blood tests are often ordered to diagnose certain medical conditions or assess for response to certain medications. Depending on the blood test it may take minutes to hours for results.
Cardiac catheterization
Cardiac catheterization is a minimally invasive test where a thin, flexible tube (called a catheter) is inserted into a blood vessel in your arm, groin, and then directed to your heart. A contrast agent or “dye” is injected into the catheter to take X-rays of your heart to test your arteries and look for plaque.
Cardiac enzyme test
Cardiac enzyme tests are blood tests that look for enzymes and proteins that circulate in the bloodstream and are elevated when there has been an injury to the heart or the heart is under duress. These substances are normally found in your blood in small quantities, but they can leak out of the heart in larger quantities if the muscle is damaged from a heart attack.
Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a powerful magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to produce detailed pictures of the structures within the heart. It is used to detect or monitor cardiac disease and to evaluate the heart’s anatomy and function in patients with congenital heart disease.
Cardiac stress testing
The most common kind of cardiac stress testing uses a treadmill to help determine how well your heart performs under maximal stress conditions. The test starts by walking on a treadmill. Pads, called electrodes, connecting your chest, arms, and shoulders to an electrocardiograph (EKG) monitor, which measures your heart’s electrical activity. The test may be adjusted to increase the intensity to allow patients to achieve their maximal capacity to ensure an adequate test result.
Chest x-ray
A chest X-ray is a painless imaging test that takes pictures of your heart, lungs, airways, bones, vessels, and other structures in your chest. X-rays use electromagnetic radiation to create an image of the inside of the body.
Computed tomography scan/Computed tomography
Computed tomography scanning, also known as MDCT, can be performed using radiation from the scanner to look at the structure and function of the heart. Contrast can also be added and imaged for finer detection of blockages anywhere in blood vessels that are in the field of scanning.
Coronary calcium scoring
Calcium scoring with electron beam CT can be performed to determine the amount of calcium present in your heart arteries. The score represents the presence of atherosclerosis and the higher the score the higher cardiovascular risk for heart attack in the future.
Echocardiography and 3Dimensional echocardiography
An echocardiogram (echo) is a test that uses high frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to make pictures of your heart. Advances in medicine have made 3 dimensional echo possible that can further characterize your heart with enhanced picture generation.
Electrocardiography (ECG)
ECG is a non-invasive testing tool used commonly to determine patient’s heart rhythms. It is the surface representation of the heart’s electrical activity.
Electrophysiology study (EPS)
An electrophysiology study (EPS), commonly performed in the cardiac cath lab or electrophysiology lab, tests your heart’s electrical activity to determine where an arrhythmia may be arising from. During this test, you’ll be given a mild sedative to help you relax and a local anesthetic to numb the part of the body being worked on. A sheath is inserted into an artery or vein and used to guide several specialized catheters (long, thin, flexible tubes) to your heart. Small electrical pulses will be sent through the catheter to make your heart beat at different speeds, which will help your doctor locate where arrhythmias are starting in your heart.
Implantable loop recorder
An implantable loop recorder is a small recording device inserted just beneath the skin in the chest wall. It is an office-based procedure. It is usually performed to record patient electrical system over long period of time.
Monitors: Holter Monitors, event monitors, cardiac outpatient telemetry
Each of these non-invasive recording devices are attached to the patient using leads attached to the patient’s chest to record and detect arrhythmic events.
Multiple gated acquisition (MUGA) test
The multiple-gated acquisition (MUGA) scan is a non-invasive nuclear test that uses a radioactive isotope called technetium to evaluate the functioning of the heart’s pumping chambers.
Myocardial biopsy
Myocardial biopsy is an invasive procedure that can be performed as an inpatient or outpatient. It is usually used to diagnose cardiac rejection in heart transplant recipients. The procedure is done by advancing a bioptome into the right side of the heart; multiple samples of tissue are taken to aid in the diagnosis.
Pericardiocentesis is a minimally invasive procedure where the doctor introduces a needle into the sac that covers the heart to remove fluid that has accumulated there. It is usually done to differentiate the diagnosis of cancer, infection, bleeding or inflammation.
Positron Emission Tomography (TEE)
A positron emission tomography (PET) scan is an imaging test that helps reveal how your tissues and organs are functioning. A PET scan uses a radioactive drug (tracer) to show this activity. The tracer may be injected, swallowed or inhaled, depending on which organ or tissue is being studied by the PET scan.
An ultrasound scan uses high-frequency sound waves to obtain live images from the inside of your body. It can be used non-invasively to visualize flow through arteries and veins in areas of interest depending on the vessel being looked at, based on your doctor’s needs.
A venogram is a test performed to assess the adequacy and patency of your veins. It is done by injecting a small amount of contrast and imaging the vessel using xray technology.