Cardiovascular diagnostic procedures are performed to identify heart disease and heart conditions. Once a doctor diagnoses heart disease or a heart condition, appropriate treatment can begin.
Dignity Health’s Chandler Regional Medical Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center are nationally recognized leaders in heart and vascular care, offering a full range of diagnostic procedures in Arizona.
Why Cardiovascular Diagnostic Procedures are Performed
Some cardiovascular diagnostic procedures are done on an emergency basis, while others are planned ahead of time. If you go to an emergency room with chest pain, diagnosis is vital to determine if your chest pain is related to a heart attack or other potentially life-threatening condition.
Other diagnostic procedures may be scheduled in advance by your doctor or cardiologist to make a diagnosis or to check if earlier treatments for heart disease have been successful.
Types of Cardiovascular Diagnostic Procedures
At Dignity Health, several types of cardiovascular procedures may be performed in an emergency:
- Blood tests. Blood tests can check for many problems, including damage to your heart muscle.
- Electrocardiogram (EKG). Using electrodes placed on your limbs and chest, an EKG machine can monitor the electrical activity in your heart.
- Chest x-ray. These images show your doctor your heart’s structure and if there is any fluid in your lungs.
- Echocardiogram. Similar to an ultrasound, an echocardiogram uses sound waves to look at the heart’s size, structure, and how well it pumps blood.
- Computed tomography (CT) scan. These scans use X-rays to take cross-sectional pictures and provide detailed images of the heart.
- Positron emission tomography (PET) scan. This test is similar to a CT scan, however, it uses special dye with radioactive tracers. PET scans can detect the early onset of heart problems before they can be seen on other imaging tests.
- Cardiac catheterization and angiography. These tests may be done as an emergency or as needed. A doctor inserts a catheter through an artery and threads it to your heart. After injecting a dye, the doctor watches the blood flow through your heart, and checks for blockages or other structural issues.
Dignity Health hospitals are Accredited Chest Pain Centers designated by the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care. This recognition is given to hospitals that have achieved a high level of expertise in treating patients who arrive with symptoms of a heart attack.
Non-emergency cardiovascular procedures include:
- Exercise stress test. Your doctor checks your heart function as you exercise under supervision in a cardiology lab.
- Nuclear stress test. You exercise after a small amount of a radioactive tracer has been injected into your blood. This tracer allows your doctor to follow your blood flow through your arteries and heart.
- Holter monitor, also called ambulatory EKG. You wear a heart monitor for 24 to 48 hours, which records your heart’s activity as you go through your day as you normally would.
The results of these tests will help your doctor form your treatment plan.
Dignity Health uses advanced diagnostic tests in Arizona to diagnose cardiovascular diseases and conditions.