Cardiovascular Testing

St. Anthony's Hospital is committed to health care technology leadership.  We were the first healthcare provider in the region to introduce cardiac catheterization and we continue to set the standard with the newest, most effective diagnostic heart testing procedures and imaging technology.

Angiograms  - An imaging test that uses X-rays to study narrow, blocked, enlarged, or malformed arteries in the heart and other areas including the abdomen and legs.

Cardiac Stress Test - A stress test, or exercise electrocardiogram, is used to evaluate the heart and vascular system after your heart has been put through physical exercise forcing it to perform at an increased workload. A stress test compares your baseline EKG (the heart at rest) to the EKG after you have exercised in a controlled manner on a treadmill or a stationary bicycle.

Diagnostic and Interventional Cardiac Catheterization - During a catheterization procedure, a thin, flexible tube, or catheter, is inserted into an artery or vein through a very small incision. The catheter is then gently moved further into the arteries or the heart. It can be used as a diagnostic tool to figure out what is wrong with a patient's cardiovascular system or it can also be used as a form of treatment for coronary artery disease. When a partial or complete blockage of one or more coronary arteries is diagnosed, a similar catheter is used to reopen the artery (called angioplasty) by the interventional cardiologist. A stent may also be inserted through this catheter into the artery to keep it open after the procedure.

Echocardiograms - An imaging test that uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the heart. The picture is much more detailed than X-ray image and involves no radiation exposure. If the echocardiogram is unclear, a transesophageal echocardiogram, or TEE, may be performed. With TEE, the back of your throat is anesthetized, and a scope is inserted down your throat to obtain a two-dimensional image of your heart.

Electrocardiograms (ECGs or EKGs) - An electrocardiogram is a recording of the heart's electrical activity. This shows the heart's rate and rhythm, and can also detect decreased blood flow due to cardiac ischemia (partial or complete blockage in a coronary artery), enlargement of the heart, and the presence of either current or past heart attacks. An EKG that takes readings over 24 hours is called a Holter monitor, and when performed during exercise, an EKG is called a stress test. Event/loop recording uses a monitoring device that a patient can wear for weeks and is activated by the patient only when symptoms are felt.

Intracoronary Ultrasound - This procedure uses ultrasound to create images of the heart and coronary arteries using a tiny ultrasound "camera" that is threaded into the heart on the tip of a flexible catheter. These imaging studies can:

  • Assure that a stent is correctly placed and guide the optimal expansion of the stent to improve its safety and efficacy.
  • Clearly identify regions containing plaque, and distinguish these regions from normal tissue.

MRIs - Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a safe and painless test that produces three-dimensional images of the body's tissues, even through bone and other obstructions. Because of its safety and clarity, MRI is a valuable tool that can aid in the diagnosis of a wide range of conditions.

Nuclear Medicine for Heart Disease (PET and MUGA scans) - Nuclear imaging evaluates how organs function using small amounts of a radioactive solution that is safe and has no side effects. A special camera is used to generate a series of images of the areas of interest. PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scans look for coronary artery disease by examining how blood flows through the heart. It can also evaluate damage to heart tissue after a heart attack. A MUGA (Multiple Gated Acquisition) Scan - also called radionuclide angiography (RNA) - evaluates heart function by measuring how much blood is pumped out of the ventricles of the heart with each heartbeat.

Tilt testing - Tilt table testing is one of the diagnostic tools used by our physicians to pinpoint the cause of syncope, or fainting. This test involves lying flat on a table. The patient is tilted upright to a 70-80 degree angle, with the head always above the feet, for twenty to thirty minutes. Patients are never tilted upside down. As the patient is tilted toward the upright position, an ECG records the heart’s electrical activity while monitoring the patient's blood pressure. In some patients, this simple maneuver will reveal abnormal cardiovascular reflexes that produce syncope.

If you are experiencing symptoms of heart disease, please contact your physician or cardiologist so that you can be tested and receive immediate treatment.

Don’t have a physician? Search for a BayCare physician near you.

If you are experiencing pressure, heaviness or pain in the chest, arm or below the breastbone alone or in combination with sweating, nausea, extreme shortness of breath or irregular heartbeats, you may be having a heart attack. Please call 911 immediately.

For more information about the heart care services at St. Anthony's Hospital, please call (727) 825-1100.