Heart disease occurs when blood vessels to the heart muscle do not function normally. There are several tests that can be used to find heart disease. All of these can be performed in the Baptist Heart Center, Kentucky’s largest and most comprehensive heart center west of Louisville.
An electrocardiogram or EKG analyzes the electric signals 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.
A 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
A nuclear stress study combines the treadmill portion of a stress test with computerized images of the heart. A radioactive marker is injected into the body through an IV to trace the images of the heart.
An echocardiogram or echo provides 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 64-slice CT scan is a screening procedure for the early detection of coronary artery disease. It is most useful for showing early problems before serious heart conditions develop.
A heart catheterization (or cath, for short) 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 or wrist 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.
Chest Pain & Stroke Hotline
If you have questions about heart attack or stroke symptoms, you can talk to a Western Baptist nurse free 24 hours a day on the Chest Pain & Stroke Hotline: 1-800-575-1911.
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 receive a Western Baptist Hospital door prize.