Your cardiovascular risk assessment at HeartHealth always begins with a detailed medical history and physical exam. The physical exam is often not able to fully diagnose problems, nor is it ever able to diagnose coronary artery disease or calcification. We therefore offer the most up-to-date noninvasive imaging studies to visualize the heart muscle, valves, blood flow and coronary arteries. We have state-of-the-art equipment and world-renowned experts to interpret these studies.
All of the following will be offered at HeartHealth (Click on the test name to view more information):
Cardiac Computed Tomography Angiography (CTA)
Purpose of the Test: Cardiac computed tomography angiography (or CTA), is a noninvasive test that uses special X-rays to focus on the coronary arteries. It allows the physician to see if you have blockages in the heart arteries. As part of the test, you will be given an iodine-based contrast material (or dye) that will be injected into a vein in the arm to see the vessels in your heart. This test will reveal plaque buildup in your coronary arteries – both calcified “hard” plaque and “soft” plaque, which can be even more dangerous.
Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Purpose of Test: Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of a large magnet, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed still and moving images of the heart (there is no radiation). This non-invasive, safe method scans the body to produce information on the anatomy of the heart and its vessels, as well as moving images of the heart as it is beating.
Purpose of Test: A cardiac positron emission tomography (PET) scan images the heart muscle using a small amount of radioactivity. Cardiac PET/CT provides improved accuracy, less radiation and increased efficiency in the detection of coronary artery disease compared to current modes of nuclear stress testing (SPECT). Cardiac PET/CT is particularly helpful in patients who are heavy (have a high body mass index, or BMI), or have a large amount of breast/chest wall tissue, breast implants, or pleural or pericardial effusions.
Purpose of Test: An echocardiogram (often called an echo) is an ultrasound that provides information about the size of the heart, the overall function and specific motion of each wall, the position and function of the 4 valves of the heart, and the speed of blood flow through the heart. It can be used to help diagnose abnormalities such as valve stenosis or regurgitation, heart attacks, disorders of the pericardium (the sack around the heart), weakness of the heart muscle and many other conditions.
Exercise Electrocardiogram or ETT (Exercise Treadmill Test)
Purpose of Test: The ETT is used to evaluate the adequacy of blood supply to the heart during exercise. It is especially helpful in patients without known heart disease who are having chest pain. It is also helpful to assess the extent of limitation of blood supply to the heart in people with known coronary artery disease.
Exercise Stress Echocardiogram & Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram
Purpose of Test: This test is an ultrasound of the heart taken at rest and after “stress” to learn about the size, shape and motion of the heart and heart valves, and to determine whether the heart receives enough blood during exercise or when it is stressed. If able, individuals will be asked to walk on a treadmill with increasing speed and incline to increase the heart rate. Images of the heart are taken at test and after exercise.
Myocardial Perfusion Scan (aka Nuclear Stress Test)
Purpose of Test: This test will identify blockages that are severe enough to cause a decrease in blood flow in the coronary arteries. Images of the heart are taken at rest and with “stress.” It is always preferred that we stress the heart with exercise on a treadmill, but if unable, a medication is injected to dilate the coronary arteries. A small amount of radioactive isotope tracer (either thallium or technetium) is injected into a vein in the hand or arm at rest and after exercise or stress.