A cardiologist will only work with a patient requiring heart care. If your cardiovascular issues go beyond a primary care physician’s abilities, they will refer you to a cardiac specialist.
Cardiovascular disease can affect people of all ages, from children to the elderly. If a patient has heart problems, or is suspected of having a heart condition, their cardiologist will perform a series of tests. These tests help the doctor identify and treat the condition affecting the heart. Some of these tests include:
Electrocardiogram – An electrocardiogram, also known as an EKG or ECG, measures the electrical activity of the heart. This is a common test that can detect abnormal heart rhythm, an enlarged heart, or a heart attack.
Echocardiogram – Echocardiograms use sound waves to check the size and strength of the heart and valves. These tests show how the heart’s valves and chambers are pumping blood throughout the heart.
Nuclear stress test – A nuclear stress test is an imaging test method that shows how well blood flows to the heart both at rest and during exercise, or if there are any damaged areas of the heart. A small amount of radioactive substance is injected into the bloodstream, while an imaging machine takes pictures of the tracer as it moves throughout the heart and arteries.
Exercise stress test – An exercise stress test, or tolerance test, is a type of nuclear cardiac stress test that measures heart activity, blood pressure, breathing, and heart rate when exercising on a treadmill or stationary bike. This test shows whether the blood supply to the heart is sufficient and heart rhythm is normal during exercise.
MRI – An MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, uses strong magnets and radio waves to paint a detailed picture of the function and structure of the cardiovascular system. Typically a non-invasive procedure, sometimes a doctor may inject special ink to make sections of the heart and arteries easier to see.
Cardiac Catheterization – This test inserts a catheter, or flexible tube, into the surrounding blood vessels to measure the pressure and blood flow to the heart, as well as check for any blockage in the coronary arteries.
Your risk factors, symptoms, and medical history all help the doctor decide which tests to perform when diagnosing any cardiac issues. Heart disease not only has a high mortality rate, it is a leading cause of disability as well. Undergoing these tests helps your cardiologist identify problems early on so that they can be treated, ensuring a longer life expectancy and greater survival rate.