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Cardiology Procedures and Services

Early diagnosis of heart disease is essential. People who do not know they have heart disease have a 30 percent chance that their first symptom will be an actual heart attack. That is why discovering what is wrong with a patient’s heart quickly is the critical first step in creating a treatment plan. Atrium Medical Center uses a variety of tools and procedures to diagnose and treat heart disease.

Diagnosis

Noninvasive cardiac imaging is used to diagnose and assess patients with suspected coronary artery disease (CAD). Diagnostic imaging services available at Atrium are described below.

Our Diagnostic Services

Noninvasive cardiac imaging diagnoses and assesses patients with suspected coronary artery disease (CAD).

Electrocardiography (ECG or EKG)
An electrocardiograph is the most common form of noninvasive cardiac testing for patients with suspected coronary artery disease. Electrodes, which are placed on the chest, wrist, and ankles of the patient, are connected to a recording machine that displays the electrical activity of the heart. The test reveals any abnormal heart activity.

Stress Electrocardiography
When undergoing stress electrocardiography, patients increase their heart rate through exercise (such as on a treadmill) or medication while they are connected to electrocardiography equipment. This enhances the accuracy of the electrocardiograph and helps physicians confirm a possible diagnosis.

Echocardiography
Echocardiography provides three-dimensional images of the heart and its vessels and also assesses ventricle function. Atrium is the only cardiac care center in the area that provides three-dimensional heart images with echocardiography.

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Stress Echocardiography
When undergoing stress echocardiography, patients increase their heart rate through exercise (such as on a treadmill) or medication while they undergo the echocardiogram procedure. This enhances the accuracy of detecting coronary artery disease.

Gary Brown, MD - What is an Echocardiogram? Click play or read the transcript.

Noninvasive, 64-slice Computed Tomography (CT)
Our CT scanners use high-resolution three-dimensional imaging that virtually freezes the heart in motion, showing a detailed picture of the heart. We have two 64-slice multi-detector CT scanners that provide the optimum technology to perform cardiac CT. These scanners have a greater sensitivity than other CT scanners.

The 64-slice CT scanner allows technologists to take high-quality images of the heart as it is beating, which is difficult to achieve with scanners with fewer slices per revolution (such as 4, 8, or 16 slices). The higher number of slices per revolution of the x-ray tube, the less motion artifact acquired, which provides a more accurate and clear picture of the heart.

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High-Field (1.5 T) Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
High-field MRI is performed at Atrium with equipment with an open architecture thanks to Siemens’ new Espree short and extra-wide-bore scanners. It is more comfortable for our patients and helps doctors get a detailed picture of the heart.

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Cardiac Catheterization and Peripheral Angiography 

Cardiac catheterization is a minimally invasive procedure in which a catheter is used to access coronary circulation and blood-filled chambers of the heart. A small tube called a catheter is inserted into an artery or vein in the arm or leg and advanced into the chambers of the heart or coronary arteries. Peripheral Angiography is the advancement of catheters into the surrounding vasculature for diagnostic evaluation. These procedures are used to help cardiologists and ancillary staff determine what treatment plan is best for the cardiovascular patient.

M. Atiq Khalid, MD, FACP, FACC, FSCAI, discusses understanding cardiac catheterization. Click play or read the transcript.

Electrophysiology Lab
Electrophysiology (EP) procedures allow physicians to study the heart’s electrical activity, locate the source of abnormal heart rhythms and determine the most appropriate treatment – from medicine to implantable devices to surgery.  With EP testing, physicians can create a three-dimensional map of a patient’s heart giving them the precise guidance to locate and ablate (or destroy) a small area of tissue so it cannot have or continue an irregular heartbeat. Atrium offers ablation for cardiac arrhythmias including atrial fibrillation.

Sandeep Gupta, MD discusses Understanding Electrophysiology. Click play or read the transcript.

Holter Monitor
Holter monitors, also called ambulatory electrocardiography devices, are portable devices that continuously monitor the electrical activity of the heart for a 24-hour period. They are used to observe cardiac rhythms and identify arrhythmias.

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Nuclear Myocardial Perfusion Imaging
Nuclear myocardial perfusion imaging involves injecting a small amount of radioactive material into the blood stream intravenously to show if the heart is receiving an adequate blood supply. This test is combined with a stress test to provide a comprehensive exam. It is recommended for patients with risk factors or symptoms showing a high likelihood of coronary artery disease. At Atrium, our cardiologists not only perform this procedure, they also interpret the results, giving the quickest, most comprehensive evaluation possible.

Metabolic Exercise Stress Test (Cardiopulmonary Stress Test)
A Metabolic Stress Test is used to measure the performance of the heart and lungs while they are under physical stress. The test involves walking on a treadmill or pedaling a stationary bike at increasing levels of difficulty and breathing into a face mask while being closely monitored. Cardiologists use the test to determine how fit a person’s heart and lungs are to determine if symptoms of shortness of breath or chronic fatigue are due to a medical problem (such as heart or lung disease) or due to poor fitness. They also use the test to measure a patient’s heart’s ability to do work (functional capacity) and to determine if certain surgical treatments are appropriate. Cardiologists are then able to evaluate the effectiveness of the patient’s cardiac treatment plan and help develop a safe and effective exercise program.

Walter H. Roehll, Jr, MD - What is a Stress Test? Click play or read the transcript.

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Patient Evaluation and Treatment Options

Patient assessment includes a physical examination, medical history, family history, laboratory tests, blood tests, and diagnostic imaging results. At Atrium, this comprehensive evaluation involves the referring physician, Cardiologists, Radiologic Technologists, Nuclear Medicine Technologists, Registered Nurses, and other clinical caregivers, as well as the patient and the patient’s family.

Cardiology treatment plans can consist of simple lifestyle changes and/or the use of medications. They can also include interventional procedures or open heart surgery.

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