Cone Health Medical Group HeartCare offers a large range of cardiac services to better address cardiovascular issues for our patients. Whether a patient has experienced stroke or heart attack symptoms, we quickly can identify and evaluate cardiovascular conditions with our digital scans and ultrasounds.
CHMG HeartCare utilizes cardiac computed tomography (cardiac CT) to detect or evaluate cardiovascular conditions clearly and efficiently. A cardiac CT is a painless test utilizing x-rays to provide detailed pictures of the heart and surrounding blood vessels.
A cardiac CT can reveal narrowed or blocked areas of a blood vessel. The test can also show whether there is a bulge (aneurysm) or a buildup of fatty material (plaque) in blood vessels.
During this procedure, patients lie on a table that passes through a doughnut-shaped opening in the scanner and are given dyes intravenously in their arm or hand to enhance blood vessels in the scan. This type of CT scan is called a coronary CT angiography, or CTA. Additionally, patients may receive medicines called beta-blockers to slow the heart rate during the tests.
Cardiac MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is a painless, noninvasive test that creates detailed pictures of organs and tissues. It is non-invasive and generates moving pictures of your heart and major blood vessels. Doctors are able to utilize a cardiac MRI to view a patient’s beating heart and function.
MRI uses radio waves, magnets, and a computer to create pictures of your organs and tissues. Unlike other imaging tests, MRI doesn't use ionizing radiation or carry any risk of causing cancer.
It's used to diagnose and assess many diseases and conditions, including:
For an MRI test, the area of the body being studied is placed inside a special machine that takes digital images that can be saved and reviewed remotely for future reference. In some cases, dyes may be used intravenously during the MRI scan to show certain structures more clearly.
You may be able to have an MRI with an open machine that doesn't enclose your entire body. But open MRI machines aren't available everywhere. The pictures from an open MRI may not be as good as those from a standard MRI machine.
An echocardiogram (also called an echo) is a type of ultrasound test that uses high-pitched sound waves to create images of the different parts of your heart. This painless procedure takes 30 to 60 minutes and involves gel applied to the chest and a transducer (wand-like apparatus) moving over the chest area producing images of the internal structures of the heart.
These echoes are turned into moving pictures of your heart that can be seen on a video screen. Various abnormalities in the heart muscle and valves can be identified using this technology.
The different types of Echocardiograms are:
- Transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE). Most commonly used, views of the heart are obtained by moving the transducer to different locations on your chest or abdominal wall.
- Stress echocardiogram. During this test, an echocardiogram is done both before and after your heart is stressed either by having you exercise or by injecting a medicine that makes your heart beat harder and faster. A stress echocardiogram is usually done to find out if you might have decreased blood flow to your heart (coronary artery disease).
- Doppler echocardiogram. This test is used to look at how blood flows through the heart chambers, heart valves, and blood vessels. The movement of the blood reflects sound waves to a transducer. The ultrasound computer then measures the direction and speed of the blood flowing through your heart and blood vessels. Doppler measurements may be displayed in black and white or in color.
- Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE). For this test, the probe is passed down the esophagus instead of being moved over the outside of the chest wall. TEE shows clearer pictures of your heart, because the probe is located closer to the heart and because the lungs and bones of the chest wall do not block the sound waves produced by the probe. A sedative and an anesthetic applied to the throat are used to make you comfortable during this test.
Echo can be used as part of a stress test and with an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) to help your doctor learn more about your heart.
Nuclear Cardiac Imaging
Also called a heart scan, Nuclear Cardiac Imaging involves a patient exercising on a treadmill or given medication to increase heart rate to measure blood flow. These scans provide images of areas with low blood flow throughout the heart.
If the arteries to the heart are blocked due to accumulation of fatty materials, the heart may not receive enough blood under stress (exercise). This may cause angina or chest pain. The narrowing of the arteries is called CAD (coronary artery disease). Sometimes there may be no physical signs of the disease.
If CAD is suspected or the stress test didn’t accurately identify the cause of chest pain or shortness of breath, a patient may be given a nuclear stress test, which involves injecting a radioactive tracer to your bloodstream.
Additionally, a physician may order a nuclear stress test if the patient has chronic chest pain or angina, may have recently experienced a heart attack, or is having surgery in the future.
A special instruction sheet is given at the time appointments are made. The patient should plan to be in our office 3 to 4 hours. A nuclear stress test may be scheduled Monday through Friday.
This test may also be referred to as a cardiac perfusion scan or a myocardial (nuclear) stress test.
Vascular imaging, a noninvasive procedure, produces sound waves to listen to and evaluate the blood flow, blood pressure, circulation oxygen levels in the blood in a patient’s veins and arteries.