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FAQs About Our Cardiovascular Tests

There are several different types of medical tests that can identify cardiovascular disease. We offer many test to help us establish a health benchmark and create a customized treatment plan for you and your heart. Here’s what you need to know about each one.

 

Echocardiogram

What is it?

An echocardiogram is a type of non-invasive medical test that uses very high frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to create moving pictures that show the size, structure and function of various parts of your heart. It’s called an “echo” cardiogram because it uses a device that picks up the echo of sound waves as they bounce off different parts of the heart. The machine converts the ultrasound waves into images that then can be seen on a screen. It’s the same technology that allows doctors to see an unborn baby inside a pregnant woman.  Doppler recordings are also part of the test and this allows blood flow to be traced through the heart.

A standard echocardiogram allows your doctor to see your heart beating and pumping blood in order to detect and diagnose various types of heart conditions.  Some heart problems — particularly those involving the coronary arteries that supply blood to your heart muscle — occur only during physical activity. Because of this, your doctor may order a stress echocardiogram that compares the function of the various chambers of your heart before, during and after exercise to tell if you have decreased blood flow to any part of your heart. 

What do I have to do to prepare for the test?

For a standard echocardiogram, you don’t have to do anything special to prepare. You can eat, drink and take medications as you normally would.

For a stress echocardiogram, you should not eat at least 4 hours before testing and you should not take beta blockers for at least 24 hours before the exam. Since you will be walking on a treadmill during a stress echocardiogram, wear comfortable shoes. 

 

Carotid Ultrasound

What is it?

A carotid ultrasound test is a painless, harmless, non-invasive test that uses high-frequency sound waves to create still pictures of the insides of your carotid arteries. Physicians use a carotid ultrasound to see if you have a buildup of plaque in the major blood vessels that supply blood to your brain, neck and face. If your arteries are narrowed due to buildup of plaque, it can increase your risk of stroke, which can happen if the blood flow in the artery becomes blocked or particles of plaque break loose and block an artery in the brain.

What do I have to do to prepare for the test?

You don’t have to do anything special to prepare for a carotid ultrasound test. You can eat, drink and take medications as you normally would. 

 

Abdominal Ultrasound

What is it?

An abdominal ultrasound is a painless non-invasive test that uses high-frequency sound waves to create still pictures of the organs inside your abdomen. It can be used specifically to diagnose an aneurysm in the abdominal aorta, which is the major blood vessel that supplies blood to the body. An aneurysm is a balloon-like bulge caused by weakness in the wall of an artery and there is the potential of rupture.

What do I have to do to prepare for the test?

Please do not eat for at least 8 hours before an abdominal ultrasound test. 

 

Renal Doppler

What is it?

A renal artery doppler is an ultrasound exam that uses high-frequency sound waves to evaluate the blood flow to the kidneys to determine if there is a narrowing or blockage of the renal arteries that supply blood to the kidneys, which in turn can cause high blood pressure. Unlike a regular ultrasound, a Doppler ultrasound can measure a moving object like red blood cells flowing through your veins.

What do I have to do to prepare for the test?

Please do not eat for at least 8 hours before a renal artery doppler test. 

 

Arterial Doppler

What is it?

An arterial doppler is an ultrasound exam that uses high-frequency sound waves to evaluate the flow of blood in the arteries in your arms and legs. It looks to see if you have a blockage or buildup of plaque in the major blood vessels that supply blood to your arms and legs.

What do I have to do to prepare?

You don’t have to do anything special to prepare for an arterial doppler test. You can eat, drink and take medications as you normally would. 

 

CIMT

What is it?

A CIMT or Carotid Intima-Media Thickness Test is an ultrasound exam that uses high-frequency sound waves to detect the thickness of the two inner layers of the carotid arteries, which are the major blood vessels that supply blood to your brain and face. Genetics and environmental factors including diet, cigarette smoke, and lack of exercise can combine over time to cause inflammation of the inner layers of the artery and the formation of plaque on the arterial wall. Measuring the thickness of these layers determines the earliest anatomical evidence of arterial disease and the “age” of the carotid arteries. Buildup of plaque and increased thickness of the above-mentioned layers leads to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

What do I have to do to prepare?

You don’t have to do anything special to prepare for a CIMT. You can eat, drink and take medications as you normally would. 

 

Endopat

What is it?

An Endopat test is an non-invasive exam that measures the overall health of the inner lining of your blood vessels. Normal endothelium function protects your blood vessels from plaque buildup and hardening of the arteries.  If your arteries are unhealthy, treating key cardiac risk factors, such as diet, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, can transform your vessels and bring them back to normal health in a matter of months. 

What do I have to do to prepare?

For an Endopat test, you should not eat or drink caffeinated beverages  at least 8 hours before testing and you should stop taking any of the following drugs 24 hours before testing:

• Nitroglycerine

• Alpha- beta blockers, beta-blockers, and calcium channel blockers

• ACE inhibitors

 

EKG (electrocardiogram)

What is it?

An electrocardiogram is a quick, harmless and painless test that measures the electrical activity of your heart. With every heartbeat, an electrical impulse of wave travels through the heart. Electrodes attached to the skin of your chest can measure these waves and transfer the pattern of electrical activity to paper or a screen. An electrocardiogram is used to detect arrhythmia, an abnormal heart rhythm, or rare genetic conditions. It can also help assess whether your heart is getting enough blood flow, whether there is fluid around your heart or inflammation in the sac surrounding your heart. It can also provide information about the shape and size of the chambers of the heart.

What do I have to do to prepare for the test?

You don’t have to do anything special to prepare for an electrocardiogram. You can eat, drink and take medications as you normally would. However, you may wish to wear comfortable clothing that buttons in front so electrodes can be placed on your chest.

 

Holter Monitor

What is it?

A Holter Monitor is a recording device that measures the electrical activity of your heart in a similar way to an electrocardiogram, but it captures the heart rhythm over a longer period of time, usually 24 to 72 hours. The Holter Monitor is used to detect arrhythmia, an abnormal heart rhythm, and may be ordered if you have any complaints of an irregular heartbeat (such as a fast heart beat or skipped beats) or if you’ve had fainting or near-fainting episodes.

What do I have to do to prepare for the test?

You don’t have to do anything special to prepare to wear the Holter Monitor. You will take the monitor home and wear it as you go through your normal daily activities.  You can eat, drink and take medications as you normally would.

 

Treadmill Stress Test (aka Exercise Stress Test)

What is it?

A Treadmill Stress Test, also known as an Exercise Stress Test, is a test that evaluates how your heart responds to physical activity. As in an electrocardiogram, electrodes are placed on your chest to continuously monitor the electrical activity of your heart as you walk on a treadmill.  As you walk over a specific amount of time, the speed and incline will be increased slightly to apply stress on your heart. This test helps evaluate if your heart is able to respond appropriately to an increased demand of blood flow.

This test may be ordered to detect possible blockage in the arteries that supply blood to your heart, an inappropriate rise in heart rate or blood pressure, and possibly arrhythmias or abnormal heart rhythms.                

What do I have to do to prepare for the test?

To prepare for a Treadmill Stress Test you should not eat at least 4 hours before testing and you should not take beta blockers or calcium channel blockers the day of the test. Since you will be walking on a treadmill with electrodes placed on your chest, wear comfortable shoes and loose fitting clothing.

 

Watchpat

What is it?

A Watchpat is a harmless, painless portable device worn like a wrist watch that you take home to evaluate the pattern of your sleep habits. It can detect obstructive sleep apnea, which is a potentially dangerous sleep-related breathing disorder in which the muscles in the back of your throat fail to keep the airway open during sleep, leading to reduced or blocked air flow to the lungs.  Untreated sleep apnea can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.

What do I have to do to prepare for the test?                                                                                                                                     

You don’t have to do anything special to prepare. You can eat, drink and take medications as you normally would prior to sleeping.  Once the test is completed, it is returned to the clinic to send for interpretation.