At Samuel Family Cardiology, we use cardiac diagnostic tests to better understand your overall cardiac health. The exact types of cardio health tests you need will depend upon your individual evaluation and health situation.
This page lists some of the common diagnostic test services we can perform for our patients.
An echocardiogram (ECHO) test uses an ultrasound (high-frequency sound waves) device to take pictures of your heart’s valves and chambers. This helps your doctor assess the pumping action of your heart. The ECHO can also be used with a Doppler technique to assess blood flow across your heart’s valves.
Echocardiography does not use radiation (like X-rays and CT scans) and is not an invasive test.
Echocardiograms can be transthoracic or transesophageal. A transthoracic ECHO is the most commonly used test. This is the one that comes up when you think of an echocardiogram.
The transthoracic ECHO test usually takes 40 to 60 minutes. A transesophageal ECHO can take up to 90 minutes.
An echocardiogram can be used to detect many different types of heart disease, such as:
- Congenital heart disease.
- Weakness of the heart muscles (cardiomyopathy).
- Infection in the heart’s chambers or valves (infective endocarditis).
- Malfunction of the valves that connect the chambers of the heart.
An ECHO can also show changes that could indicate heart problems, such as aortic aneurysms, blood clots, and cardiac tumors.
An electrocardiogram (EKG/ECG) uses temporary electrodes on your chest and limbs to monitor and record your heart’s electrical activity (which controls your heartbeats).
An ECG machine reads the electrical activity and monitors its impact on your heart as it contracts and relaxes with each heartbeat. The information is then printed out as a wave pattern by the ECG machine for your cardiologist to study.
They will study the electrical activity to note its strength and the intervals between different waves or peaks representing the electrical impulses.
At Samuel Family Cardiology, we use your ECG results to:
- Check the rhythm of your heartbeat to rule out arrhythmia.
- Check if the heart’s walls have become thicker (cardiomyopathy) or stretched out (aneurysm).
- Check for symptoms of poor blood flow to your heart muscle (ischemia) because of coronary artery disease.
- Diagnose a heart attack, heart damage, or heart failure.
- Diagnose abnormalities of your heart, such as heart chamber enlargement and abnormal electrical conduction.
- Ensure stability before any planned surgical procedure.
It is a quick and noninvasive test. ECG test results are also useful to check for your heart’s stability if you get a pacemaker placed, take new medication for heart disease, or have a heart attack.
A cardiac stress test or exercise stress test is performed to check how well your heart pumps blood and if your heart receives adequate blood supply. Stress tests help your cardiologist determine if additional testing is needed to confirm a diagnosis or if treatment can lower your risk of a heart attack.
A heart stress test is performed by making your heart pump harder and faster. This is usually achieved using a treadmill or stationary bicycle. The doctor then measures your
- Blood pressure
- Heart rate
- Oxygen levels
- Heart’s electrical activity
The working of your heart is also compared with others in your age and sex to get a baseline estimate of your condition. The stress test is useful to assess the risk of heart disease and heart attacks for patients without known heart disease or symptoms.
This is especially valuable if the patient has other risk factors, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or a family history of heart disease.
The cardiac stress test can help detect heart problems, such as:
- Congenital heart disease
- Congestive heart failure
- Coronary artery disease
- Heart valve disease
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
The aorta is a major blood vessel in the body. It carries out blood from the heart to the rest of the body. An ultrasound of the aorta is a non-invasive and painless test that uses high-frequency sound waves to view the aorta.
The aortic ultrasound is also called an abdominal aortic ultrasound. The ultrasound is also able to capture video in real-time. The diagnostic test is usually recommended if you're at risk of an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
A one-time abdominal aortic ultrasound screening is recommended for men between the ages of 65 and 75 who have smoked at least 100 cigarettes during their lifetimes. An aortic ultrasound can also be used to check for problems with:
- Abdominal blood vessels
- Kidney stones
Vein imaging is a non-invasive diagnostic test used to evaluate the blood flow in your veins. During the procedure, ultrasound technology is used to diagnose conditions such as:
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Peripheral artery disease
- Varicose veins
- Other vein abnormalities
Vein imaging produces images of the veins in the legs or arms. These images help identify blood clots or blockages or abnormalities in the veins, which can indicate the presence of cardiovascular diseases.
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a lower limb peripheral arterial disease that can be defined as the narrowing of the arteries in your legs or arms. This narrowing usually occurs due to an accumulation of cholesterol and fats in the arteries, making it hard for oxygen-rich blood to reach the limbs (peripherals).
This test can be used to diagnose blood clots and PAD. Peripheral arterial imaging is a test that provides your cardiologist with information about the condition of the arteries and veins outside the heart.
The test uses an ultrasound device that employs high-frequency sound waves to develop a 2-dimensional detailed image of soft tissue and blood vessels. It helps your doctor visualize how blood flows in your arms, neck, and legs.
During the test, sound waves are “bounced” off the artery, and a computer reconstructs the sound waves into a picture of the artery. It is a non-invasive test.
This test can help your doctor diagnose conditions such as:
- Blood clots
- Carotid artery disease
- Chronic venous insufficiency
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Extracranial carotid artery aneurysm
- Peripheral artery disease
- Vascular disease
- Varicose veins
Peripheral artery imaging is usually performed if your doctor suspects that your symptoms might be caused by a buildup of fat or cholesterol in your blood vessels. It is also used to follow up on your progress if you have previously been diagnosed with vascular disease or have had surgery to open up blockages.
An angiogram is a diagnostic test that helps look for blockages in your blood vessels (arteries or veins) with the help of X-ray images. It can be used to check how blood circulates at specific locations in your body. An angiogram may be used for your heart, neck, kidneys, legs, or other areas to locate the source of an artery or vein issue.
An angiogram is usually performed when you have symptoms of blocked, damaged, or abnormal blood vessels. The test helps identify the source of the problem and the extent of damage to the blood vessels.
An angiogram is a catheter-based, minimally invasive procedure and is performed by interventional cardiologists like Dr. Paulraj Samuel.
It is usually performed as an outpatient procedure, and you can return home the same day. You will receive at-home care and precautionary instructions from your doctor before you go home.
During an angiogram procedure, the doctor will first numb the area where the catheter will be inserted. They will then access the blood vessel with a needle and thread a wire through the needle.
A thin, long catheter is then slid over the needle and into a large artery (usually in your groin). The doctor then threads the catheter through your artery until the catheter’s tip reaches the area to be examined.
A small amount of contrasting material (dye) is injected into the blood vessel through the catheter. At this point, X-rays are taken to determine how the dye moves in your blood vessels.
If a blockage is located, your cardiologist may treat it immediately with an angioplasty. A tiny balloon widens the space within the artery by forcing the blockage against the artery wall.
If this procedure is enough to increase the blood flow and less than 30% of the original blockage is left after the procedure, the treatment is considered successful.
However, the angioplasty is not able to create a wide enough opening for blood to get through, you may need a stent, which is a tiny metal tube that is placed within your blood vessel to keep it open.
Dr. John Samuel and Dr. Paulraj Samuel have extensive experience in treating a wide range of heart conditions, including hypertension, vascular diseases, atherosclerosis, heart failure, and more.
During your consultation, they take the time to understand your unique history and needs and then create a targeted treatment plan to reduce the likelihood of any heart condition.
To schedule a cardiology consultation with one of our experienced cardiologists, please contact us at 281-446-2999 or contact us online.
Cherish your life, for it is precious! We look forward to helping you achieve optimal heart health.