Identifying the problem early
Cardiovascular disease takes many forms, including artery disease, valve disease, peripheral vascular disease, congestive heart failure and electrical conduction disorders. Because early diagnosis vastly improves your chances of effective treatment and recovery, the Aspirus Heart & Vascular Institute provides a complete array of diagnostic tests, including leading technologies that can save lives.
As the name indicates, stress tests document how the heart functions under a workload, so doctors can search for indications of blockage or other problems. Stress tests can be performed with leading ultrasound machines or nuclear imaging equipment to provide the most accurate results.
Using computed tomography, or CT, imaging technology, our experts can often identify disease in the heart and elsewhere in the vascular system. New tests using this modality include:
Assesses your risk of having a heart attack by measuring the amount of calcium build-up in your coronary arteries, which signals early atherosclerotic plaque. If left untreated, this plaque can lead to serious coronary blockages or a heart attack. Click here for more information.
A non-invasive test to visualize the coronary arteries using the CT imaging and IV dye injection. It can help doctors evaluate bypass grafts, or evaluate people with existing heart problems or unexplained symptoms.
Echocardiography uses ultrasound to examine heart function and anatomy. This is done non-invasively, by placing a probe on your chest. These tests can find clots, evaluate valvular function, and locate abnormalities.
Monitoring heart rhythms
People who have irregular heart rhythms can be difficult to diagnose, especially if these “arrhythmias” are unpredictable. There are many hospital based or portable tests to monitor heart rhythms and rates during everyday activities. These are worn for various lengths of time. Here are some specialized examples:
Similar to a stress test, this looks at a specific portion of an EKG to see if you have increased risk for certain types of dangerous heart rhythms.
King of Hearts
This mobile monitor can be worn up to a month. Patient-activated, it is used to evaluate symptoms such as dizziness, palpitations or chest pain that occur infrequently.
This implantable device records heart rhythms, which are downloaded into a computer for physicians to evaluate.
A small, portable, battery-powered ECG machine worn by a patient to record heartbeats on digital media over a period of 24 to 48 hours during normal activities. The patient keeps a diary and physician compares patient activities to the corresponding heart rates.
Ambulatory Blood Pressure
A mobile unit that monitors blood pressures periodically for 24 hours.
Sometimes doctors will do a diagnostic cardiac catheterization, during which a small catheter, or hollow tube, is guided through a vessel into the heart or surrounding coronary arteries. A colorless, liquid "dye" is injected through the catheter, and shows narrowing in the arteries, outside heart size, inside chamber size, pumping ability of the heart, ability of the valves to open and close, as well as a measurement of the pressures within the heart.
Catheterization often serves as the basis for future interventions, or for planning purposes.