Heart disease, the nation’s number one killer, occurs when blood vessels to the heart muscle do not function normally.
Physicians may choose from a variety of tests to diagnose problems, including:
• Electrocardiogram (EKG). Analyzes the electrical symbols that control the rhythm of the heart. Electrodes are attached to the chest, arms and legs to record heart activity as line tracings on graph paper. Findings may show heart enlargement, insufficient blood flow, heart attack, rhythm problems, electrolyte imbalance and inflammation surrounding the heart.
• Stress test. Involves walking on a treadmill with electrodes attached to shoulders and hips to evaluate blood pressure, heart rate, changes in electrocardiogram pattern and irregular rhythm. It is for patients with symptoms of coronary artery disease, unexplained fatigue and shortness of breath.
• Nuclear stress study. Combines the treadmill portion of a stress test with computerized images of the heart. A small dosage of isotope is injected into the body intravenously to trace the images of the heart.
• Echocardiogram (Echo). Provides real-time, moving pictures of the heart and its movements. It is used to assess the heart’s function, follow the progress of valve disease and determine the presence of diseases of the heart muscle or valves, heart tumors and congenital heart disease.
• 64-slice CT scan. A screening procedure for the early detection of coronary artery disease. It is most useful for showing early problems before serious heart conditions develop.
• Heart catheterization (Cath). Measures pressure inside the heart and pulmonary arteries and the severity of plaque. A long, thin tube (a catheter) is inserted into a blood vessel through a small incision in the groin and guided to the heart, where the coronary arteries begin. Dye is injected for viewing on X-ray monitors while the patient is sedated but conscious.
Highly-skilled physicians and staff at the Baptist Heart Center perform these procedures daily on an outpatient basis and on hospitalized patients. The 79,000-square-foot facility features four cardiac catheterization labs, echocardiology, nuclear cardiology, stress testing, cardiac rehabilitation and an auditorium for community and physician education. A rooftop heliport allows distant patients to be transported quickly to the Chest Pain Center for lifesaving intervention.
How can I learn more ?
To learn more about the risk factors, symptoms and treatment for heart disease, visit westernbaptist.com/heart. You can take a free, five-minute online heart risk survey and become eligible for reduced-cost cardiac screenings at Baptist Prime Care. You also may phone Baptist Health Line at (270) 575-2918.
Send your questions!
Do you have a cardiac question tugging at your heart? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail it to HeartBeat, 2501 Kentucky Ave., Paducah, KY 42003. If we use it in a future HeartBeat column, you will win a Baptist Heart Center T-shirt.