Diagnostic Testing

Electrocardiogram (EKG, ECG)

An EKG measures the heart’s electrical system. A regular EKG measures the heart’s electrical activity over a period of about one minute. To detect heart abnormalities that may become apparent over a longer period of time, the cardiologist may order a Holter monitor to record heart activity for 24 hours or an event monitor to record activity for one to four weeks.


An echocardiogram — sometimes called an ultrasound of the heart — uses sound waves to create a moving picture of blood flow in the heart. This procedure can detect damage to heart valves and heart muscle, and also identify possible genetic abnormalities.

Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE)

TEE is a specialized form of echocardiogram that provides a closer look at the heart while the patient is under sedation. During a TEE study, a small ultrasound transducer is positioned on an endoscope (a long, thin, flexible instrument), which is then placed in the mouth and passed into the esophagus to provide a close look at the heart’s valves and chambers without interference from the ribs or lungs.

Coronary computed tomography angiography (CCTA)

Coronary CTA is a special type of X-ray examination that helps determine whether fatty deposits or calcium deposits have narrowed the coronary arteries — the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle.

Nuclear stress test

– A nuclear stress test can detect damage to the heart muscle from a previous heart attack, as well as check the condition of your heart and source of chest symptoms. During a nuclear stress test, a radiographic tracer is injected and images are taken before and after one of these two types of stress tests:

  • Exercise stress test – During an exercise stress test, a patient exercises on a treadmill. This test can detect damage to the heart’s muscle by measuring how heart rate, rhythm and blood pressure change during exercise.
  • Pharmacological stress test – If a patient is not able to perform the physical activity required for an exercise stress test, a medication can be given that causes the heart to react as if the person were exercising.

Diagnostic cardiac catheterization

– Cardiac catheterization has been performed at ARMC since 1988 to diagnose coronary artery blockages, leaky valves, holes in the heart, and other heart problems. During this procedure, a cardiologist inserts a thin plastic tube, called a catheter, into an artery in the wrist, arm or leg and guides the catheter through a series of connecting arteries and into the heart’s arteries. X-ray equipment allows the doctor to see where

the heart problem exists, and often treat it right then and there.

Electrophysiology (heart rhythm) studies

– Electrophysiology (EP) studies evaluate serious abnormalities in heart rhythm by examining the heart’s electrical activity and pathways. Cardiac mapping, a particularly sophisticated type of EP study, details the heart’s electrical system with color views in order to pinpoint the origin of

abnormal heart rhythms. Tilt table tests help to determine if there is a problem with the body’s ability to regulate heart rate and blood pressure.

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