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Mercy Heart Health Minute: Why we do tests, benefits from the studies

Get the information you need with Dr. Radu Hagau - Cardiologist.

Posted: Feb. 12, 2018 2:55 PM
Updated: Feb. 15, 2018 4:58 PM

With Dr. Radu Hagau - Cardiologist

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What are some symptoms of heart disease?
• Pressure, pain or discomfort in the center of the chest.
• Discomfort, tingling or pain in other parts of the upper body-arms, elbow, back, neck, stomach and / or jaw.
• Shortness of breath.
• Most frequently the above symptoms are associated with exercise, but could also appear at rest.
• There are also many people who don't have symptoms.
What are some tests that help pinpoint the cause of the symptom?
• There are a few types of stress tests that we could perform:
- Exercise stress test: A test that involves walking or running on a treadmill while you are hooked up to an ECG machine. It shows how well the heart works when it is beating fast and working hard, also allows your physician to evaluate your exercise capacity. Blood pressure and heart rate will also be monitored at rest, during and after exercise along with the ECG tracing. You should be able to walk on a treadmill in order to have this kind of stress test.
- Stress echocardiogram: This imaging test will provide all of the information that the treadmill stress test does but in addition will also be able to tell how strong your heart contracts at rest and at maximal level of exercise by doing an ultrasound of the heart. If patient is unable to exercise, a medicine is injected in patient's arm through a catheter and will speed up the heart mimicking exercise.
- Nuclear medicine stress test: This imaging test can show how much blood flows to your heart muscle and is able to detect areas of limited blood flow suggesting that you have a blocked coronary artery. It involves all the aspects of a treadmill stress test and in addition you will have a radioactive substance called a tracer injected into your IV which will travel to the heart and a camera outside the body will follow the tracer's signals.

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