Four Frequently Requested Cardiac Tests and What They Show

Posted in , , , , by Miss Kornelija Dedelaite

Heart health may be taken for granted if you do not feel like you have any issues. However, if you start feeling something is off, your doctor may order a few tests to identify what the underlying problem may be. The question here is – why are different tests needed? A heart is one organ, shouldn’t one test be enough?

Read below to find out why there are different test for detecting heart issues and why only collectively do they provide a holistic image of your heart’s health.

The tests we will talk about are as follows:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Echocardiogram
  • Stress test
  • CT Coronary angiogram

A doctor would typically prescribe these standard heart tests when a patient complains of palpitations, shortness of breath, unexplained weakness, or exhaustion. They serve as the initial stage in evaluating the heart’s health in order to support or refute a possible diagnosis.

These tests are also occasionally used to screen for cardiac problems, determine the course of treatment for a heart illness that has already been identified, or assess the efficacy of a treatment strategy.

These are the tests’ respective methods, rationales for ordering them, and interpretations of the results:

  1. Electrocardiogram (ECG)

A common, highly helpful, and reasonably priced cardiac screening test is an ECG. In order to help detect symptoms like palpitations and chest pain, we use it as a baseline assessment of the patient’s heart.

It’s commonly called an ECG.

An ECG: What is it?

An electrocardiogram (ECG), which can be done in your physician’s office, records information about the rhythm of your heart by detecting its electrical activity. An irregular heartbeat may indicate that your heart isn’t working well for any number of reasons.

However, it’s only a snapshot, giving you a brief overview of your heart’s current rhythm—roughly six to ten seconds.

Sometimes, more data is required, especially when attempting to diagnose intermittent symptoms. In these situations, we employ continuous electrocardiogram (ECG), also known as an event monitor or Holter monitoring, which continuously monitors the heart’s rhythm.

It is essentially a portable ECG, continuously capturing the electrical activity of your heart while you go about your regular day. You may be asked to wear it for anywhere between 24 and 48 hours by your doctor.

What does and ECG show?

To ascertain if the heart’s rhythm is normal or irregular, an ECG is utilised. Additionally, it can assist in determining whether a blockage might be lessening the heart’s blood flow.

An ECG may be used to diagnose:

  • An arrhythmia is an abnormal heartbeat, such as heart block, atrial fibrillation, or atrial flutter
  • Heart conditions
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  1. Echocardiogram

While most people associate the term “sonogram” with images of babies taken during pregnancy, an echocardiogram is also a sonogram; it is simply a picture of the heart.

What is an echocardiogram?

An echocardiogram, sometimes referred to as a cardiac ultrasound or echo, uses sound waves to produce images of your heart.

Two primary categories of echocardiograms exist:

  • Transthoracic echocardiography: this is the most common type and uses the thoracic cavity to view the heart from outside the body.
  • Transoesophageal echocardiogram: this imaging technique, which shows the heart from the perspective of the oesophagus, is utilised when a more detailed picture is required.

Transoesophageal echocardiograms allow us to obtain more precise images, but the procedure is more intrusive as a result. In order to do this, we must put the patient to sleep and insert the ultrasonography probe—also referred to as the “food pipe”—down the oesophagus.

The advantage is that a transoesophageal echocardiography offers a better picture because the oesophagus is located directly behind the heart.

However, this degree of detail isn’t always required.

What does an echocardiogram show?

The heart is visible to us in real time with an echocardiogram. We can assess the efficiency of blood flow as well as any problems with the heart’s walls, valves, and muscular tissue.

Echocardiography aids in the diagnosis of:

  • Heart valve dysfunction
  • Structural defects, such as adult congenital heart disease (ACHD)
  • Heart muscle anomalies, such as cardiomyopathy
  • Heart attack
  • Blood clots in the heart
  1. Cardiac Stress Test

An easy-to-use test that may be used to determine whether the heart is beating at its best is the stress test.

What is a cardiac stress test?

An ECG is used in a stress test to monitor the heart’s response to chemical or physical stimuli. Three different kinds of cardiac stress tests exist:

  • Exercise stress test: Using a treadmill, movement stimulates the heart
  • Chemical stress test: an IV injectable medication stimulates the heart in those unable to run on a treadmill.
  • Nuclear perfusion stress test: A more sensitive analysis, blood flow is visualised while the heart is stimulated using either an exercise or chemical stress test.

What does a stress test show?

We are searching for alterations on the EKG that point to a cardiac artery blockage when the heart rate is increased. In the event that a nuclear perfusion stress test is performed, we also examine the imaging results to see if there is insufficient blood flow in any particular place.

A stress test for the heart can assist in diagnosing:

  • Heart disease
  • An arrhythmia, including heart block, atrial fibrillation, or atrial flutter
  • Heart valve disease
  1. CT Coronary Angiogram

When doing a cardiac CT scan, the goal of the machine is to provide a precise three-dimensional image of your heart and arteries.

There are two varieties of cardiac CT scans available:

  • CT calcium score test: is a screening technique that helps assess an individual’s risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. It is also known as a cardiac calcium CT scan or heart scan.
  • CT angiogram: also known as a heart CT scan with contrast, is a non-invasive substitute for the conventional catheter-based coronary angiogram.

Although your heart and arteries are seen during both exams, they are prescribed for different reasons.

People between the ages of 40 and 70 who are more likely to develop heart disease—due to smoking, high cholesterol, being overweight, or having a strong family history of the condition—can be screened with a calcium score test. Contrarily, if a patient has unexplained chest pain and is not at high risk for heart disease, a CT angiography is recommended as there is currently insufficient data to support a catheter-based diagnostic method.

What does a calcium score CT show?

A calcium score test makes it easier to see the accumulation of plaque, which is a deposit of cholesterol that can clog your arteries and reduce heart rate. This may raise a person’s chance of developing heart disease and, eventually, having a heart attack or stroke.

The findings inform us about the presence or absence of hard plaque build-up. This aids in assessing the severity of cardiac disease as well as a person’s risk of developing it.”

Such information assists your cardiologist in assessing the appropriate level of aggression in the prevention or treatment of heart disease, such as if lifestyle changes or cholesterol drugs or additional tests and treatments are required.

What does a CT angiogram show?

An intravenous (IV) injection of contrast dye is used during a CT angiography to see the arteries supplying the heart with blood, highlighting any potential narrowing or blockages.

For those who are experiencing blockage symptoms but do not have a high risk of heart disease, this is an extremely useful tool. Though not to the point where we’re prepared to request a more intrusive test just yet, we are apprehensive.

An unfavourable CT angiography eliminates the issue. To repair a blockage, however, a follow-up operation known as coronary angioplasty would be necessary if one is found.

The CT coronary angiogram is the gold standard for diagnosing a blockage in an artery supplying the heart with blood.

Heart Health at Echelon Health

This comprehensive approach to health is essential in the current environment, where proactive health management can lead to long-term health benefits and an improved quality of life. Advances in medical technology and a growing emphasis on preventative healthcare are likely to make private health checks an essential part of health management for individuals who value their health and well-being.

This is why Echelon Health has created the Platinum Health Assessment.

This is a full-body health check that leaves no stone unturned and works on a case-by-case basis in order to provide results that are personal to you and your circumstances. Combining over 30 years of medical expertise and the use of the most advanced imaging technology available in the world today (through CT, MRI, and ultrasound scanners), along with fully comprehensive blood tests looking at over 40 parameters, including cancer markers, hormones, and more, we can confidently say that we can detect up to 92% and 95% of preventive causes of death among men and women.

Here are the scans included in the Platinum Assessment:

  • Blood Tests
  • ECG
  • CT Aorta
  • CT Heart
  • CT Coronary Angiogram
  • CT Chest
  • CT Pelvis
  • CT Virtual Colonoscopy
  • CT Bone Density
  • EOS
  • CT Upright Skeleton
  • MRI Brain
  • MRI Cerebral Artery Angiogram
  • MRI Carotid Artery Angiogram
  • MRI Prostate
  • Ultrasound Thyroid
  • Ultrasound Testes/Ovaries
  • Digital Mammogram
  • Full-body Mole Screen

If you have any questions about our services or how we can help you achieve optimal health, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our team is always happy to assist you!