When a heart problem is suspected, the Hospital’s Non-Invasive Cardiology Laboratory uses state-of-the-art technology to aid in the diagnosis of cardiac disease, particularly in women.
In today’s society, women lead active lives in a high-pressure environment. Along with these pressures comes an added risk for heart disease. Women suffer from heart disease at an ever-increasing rate. Long Island Community Hospital recognizes these as well as the health needs of other special groups and has integrated them into our range of diagnostic services. These procedures are designed to detect such potential heart problems as:
- Electrical, rhythm or “wiring” problems in the heart, such as arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms), a heartbeat that’s too fast, too slow or irregular, or a potentially fatal heart rhythm. In addition to noninvasive tests, LI Community Hospital also offers the latest in electrophysiological services, which involve the insertion of an electrode catheter into the heart to diagnose or treat a heart rhythm abnormality.
- Mechanical and valve problems that can occur when the heart muscle is weak and not pumping well, or there is an issue with one or more of the four heart valves.
Typically, we perform the least invasive test first. Further tests may be ordered once initial tests are done, for a more complete workup. All are performed at Long Island Community Hospital’s state-of-the-art Cardiac Diagnostic Laboratory.
Assessing Heart Electrical Problems
To detect common heart “wiring” or rhythm problems such as arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms), a heartbeat that’s too fast, too slow or irregular, or a potentially fatal heart rhythm, Long Island Community Hospital cardiac team typically uses an electrocardiogram (EKG, ECG).
Electrocardiogram (EKG, ECG)
Because a heart muscle contraction corresponds to a part of the waveform tracing, it can give a good indication of each area of the heart, its blood supply, strength and valve status. This test:
- Takes less than a minute.
- Records heart rhythm, electrical conduction and frequency of heart beats on a moving strip of paper.
- Records any irregularities.
- Checks also for heart damage of past heart attack, heart muscle thickening or abnormal heart rhythm.
During the test period, you also will be asked to write down your activities and any symptoms in a diary, so it can be correlated to the reading on the monitor at that time.
Assessing Common Mechanical & Heart Valve Problems
When a weak heart muscle or problem with one of the four heart valves is suspected, the cardiologist may conduct one of these diagnostic tests:
- Echocardiogram (Echo)
- Chest X-ray (CXR)
- Stress Tests (exercise, pharmacological, nuclear)
- Nuclear Scan
- Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)
During this painless procedure, an ultrasound wand is moved over the outside of the chest by a technician. The resulting silent sound waves create an image of the heart chambers and valves and enable your doctor to assess blood flow through the heart.
This simple test, checks the size of your heart as well as its larger vessels, such as the aorta, checks the health of your lungs and looks any structural changes.
Exercise Stress Test
While you exercise on a bike or treadmill, your blood pressure, heart rate and EKG are continually monitored. By looking at the heart’s response to the stress of mild exercise, this test assesses coronary artery disease, heart damage, or risk of future heart problems. It is also is used to guide your Cardiac Rehabilitation program.
Pharmacologic Stress Test
When physical activity is not an option, this test uses an IV medication to dilate the blood vessels and mimic exercise stress while your blood pressure, heart rate and EKG are monitored. A nuclear scan then assesses the areas of poor blood flow to the heart.
Nuclear Stress Test
This test assesses the blood flow of the coronary arteries by looking at the heart muscle, its size, pump strength and valves using a small amount of IV radioactive fluid.
Nuclear Scan (Myocardial Perfusion Imaging)
Conducted after a heart attack to determine its damage to the strength of the heart muscle and pump, this scan shows any thickening of heart muscle, evaluates the effectiveness of heart pump and detects any abnormalities within the heart such as leaky heart valves, blood accumulation or fluid around the heart.
Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)
The TEE is similar to an echocardiogram, but it allows a more direct view of the heart. A physician inserts the ultrasound wand through a special tube that is passed down the esophagus to permit a clearer image of the heart, especially its back structures.