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Testing 101: What You Need to Know about Cardiovascular Testing

After your visit with your cardiologist, your doctor may order a test for you. There are many different forms of testing and each are requested for different reasons. Here, we break down the key types of testing and what each one means:

Echocardiogram               

Often known as an echo, this test provides a graphic outline of the heart’s movement to evaluate the pumping action of the heart and blood flow across the heart’s valves. This test is used to detect the overall function of the heart and determine the presence of many types of heart diseases such as valve disease, myocardial disease, pericardial disease and congenital heart disease.

Nuclear Stress Test

This test may also be referred to as Myocardial Perfusion Imaging. This imaging tests your heart under two conditions: under rest and under stress. Your body is put under a state of stress through treadmill exercise or a medication that creates this effect. This tracer is detected by areas of the heart muscle receiving normal blood flow. Areas which have blocked blood vessels show a decreased uptake or absence of tracers.  From this, your provider is able to identify coronary artery disease, determine your risk of future heart attacks, and the severity of past heart attacks.

Treadmill Stress Test

Sometimes, abnormalities of the heart can come out during exercise or other “stress” conditions. The treadmill stress test involves hooking the patient up to an EKG machine as they perform exercise on a treadmill. From this, our providers can detect ischemic heart disease and draw up an idea of the physical condition of the patient.

Renal Arterial Duplex

This type of test is an ultrasound that detects renal artery disease by measuring blood flow through the arteries. Left untreated, renal artery disease can result in hypertension or kidney failure. This test plays a pivotal role in ensuring this is detected earlier.

Venous Duplex

This ultrasound test is used to evaluate symptoms of thrombosis. Thrombosis is clot formation that occurs in the deep veins in the lower legs. If not detected early, thrombosis can advance and cause a fatal pulmonary embolism.

Carotid Artery Duplex

A carotid artery duplex involves measuring blood pressure in both arms as well as scanning the carotid, vertebral and subclavian arteries. The purpose of this test is to identify carotid artery disease, one of the most common causes of stroke.

Abdominal Aortic Duplex

This ultrasound test exams the aorta, the largest artery in the human body, responsible for distributing oxygenated blood to the body, as well as other arteries that deliver blood to the major organs. An aneurysm occurs when there is an enlarged segment of an artery. If left untreated, this artery can rupture and negatively affect blood flow.

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