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Heart Health
Common Medical Tests To Diagnose Heart Conditions

Overview

Our heart is working 24 hours a day round the clock pumping blood and oxygen along with all the organs of your body. Being the important muscle of the body, your heart needs proper supervision and care. Improper care of your heart can lead to many serious problems.

The modern medical system has a cure for almost all types of diseases. There are also a series of tests to diagnose the issues related to your heart too. In this article, we are going to understand some of the common medical tests and their procedures to diagnose heart health.

Angiogram 

An angiogram is the most common medical test used to diagnose the risks and defects associated with the heart and its parts. An angiogram is mainly used to check blocked or narrowed blood vessels in your heart. 

What are the types of Angiogram?

  1. Coronary Angiogram:

A coronary angiogram is usually performed during or after a heart attack. This test is also performed if there is a blockage in blood flowing to the heart. It includes X-ray imaging to observe the heart’s blood vessels.

During this procedure, a dye visible to the X-ray machine is injected into your artery and a series of images are taken by the X-ray machine known as angiograms

With the help of these angiograms, the doctor analyses the health of your heart and blockage in the arteries. If necessary, the doctor can open blocked arteries during this procedure.

  1. Coronary Computed Tomography Angiogram (CCTA): 

The coronary computed tomography angiogram is a type of angiogram that uses iodine-containing contrast material and CT scan to determine narrowed arteries to the heart.

The image created by this test is used to generate a three-dimensional image for further examination. The contrast material used in CCTA can sometimes cause allergies. Tell your doctor about all the medications and allergies you are possessing.

Electrocardiogram(ECG)

An electrocardiogram or ECG is a painless test carried out to record the electrical activity of your heart.  Sensors attached to the skin are used to evaluate the health of your heart by producing signals. These signals are observed by your doctor to see any unusualness in the heart.

There are electrical impulses in our heart for supporting blood flow. An ECG records these electrical impulses to measure our heartbeat rate. It is one of the simplest and fastest tests used to diagnose your heart. 

When should you need an ECG?

Your doctor may recommend you to have an ECG test under certain specific cases as follows:  

  1. Arrhythmias or irregular heart rhythm.
  2. Evaluate health problems related to your heart such as tiredness, shortness of breath, weakness, dizziness, and breathing trouble.
  3. Determine the overall heart’s condition after surgery, medical procedure, previous heart attack, or other heart-related problems.
  4. Analyze the working of an implanted pacemaker
  5. Check if the heart has any trouble due to coronary artery diseases.
  6. Palpitations (sudden observable heartbeats)

The test generally involves sticky sensors usually attached to your chest, arm, or legs which records your heart’s electrical impulses. These tests only last for a few minutes and sometimes they can vary depending upon the condition of the patient. 

Magnetic Resonance Imaging(MRI):

Magnetic resonance imaging or MRI is a scanning procedure that uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to generate images inside the body, especially the heart. An MRI is used to take static or moving images of your heart.

An MRI scanner is a large tube-like structure containing powerful magnets. During the procedure, the patient needs to lie flat on the table. The scan lasts from 15 to 90 minutes depending upon the images taken. 

Is MRI harmful?

MRI scanning is a painless and safe procedure. It does not involve any radiation. A special dye is injected for the visibility of the heart and arteries during the scanning. It is very important to stay still during the entire procedure. 

The test results give a clear idea about your heart, it is working, and problems or defects associated with it. An MRI  scan is not recommended in specific situations. For example, if you are having a pacemaker or a metal joint, then you won’t be allowed to do MRI scanning.

Blood Tests

Blood tests are an important procedure in determining one’s heart health, mainly after having critical conditions like a heart attack. During a heart attack, your heart muscles can get damaged and your heart releases toxic substances into the bloodstream.

Does blood test detect heart problems?

The answer is yes. Blood tests are a common and widely used method to detect the toxicity in blood and thus determines heart health. Blood tests are used to determine the level of toxic or foreign substances in your bloodstream released by the heart and thus it shows how much damage has been occurred to the heart. 

Most commonly, blood tests after a heart attack are used to determine the level of troponin in your blood. A very high level of troponin content indicates that a heart attack has occurred. About 12 hours after a heart attack, most patients who possessed heart attacks to have a high level of troponin in their blood.

Blood tests are also used to determine other factors in such as blood fats and minerals. A high level of bad cholesterol in your blood is a sign that you are at risk of having heart attacks. 

Echocardiogram

An echocardiogram is a common procedure, which involves using sound waves o produce a clear image of your heart. This test allows your doctor to see the heartbeat and pumping blood by your heart.

This procedure involves the usage of a probe. The probe is usually placed in your chest or sometimes in your esophagus. The resulting images produced by echocardiogram allow your doctor to identify the problems related to your heart, its chambers, or arteries. 

What are the most common types of Echocardiogram?

Depending upon the health condition you are possessing or the information your doctor needs, you may undergo several types of echocardiograms. An echocardiogram is mainly classified into: 

  1. Transthoracic Echocardiogram:

 Transthoracic Echocardiogram is the most commonly used type. During a TTE, your medical expert uses a small device called a transducer. The transducer is moved to different parts of the chest to obtain a clear picture of the heart.

  1. Transesophageal Echocardiogram:

 If your medical expert needs a more clear image of your heart or when it is difficult to obtain an image of the heart with a normal echocardiogram, you may be recommended to undergo a Transesophageal Echocardiogram.

  1. Stress Echocardiogram: 

Ultrasound images of your heart are taken when you are at rest. Then your medical expert advises you to undergo a physical activity and again an ultrasound image is taken and compared with the previous one. If you are not able to exercise, then an injection is given which boosts your heartbeat.

Chest X-Ray

Using an X-Ray device, pictures of your internal organs such as lungs, heart, and blood vessels are taken. These pictures are further examined to see if there is any sign of heart failure or risks.

A chest X-Ray, also known as a radiograph is focused beams of radiation. The pictures obtained from the procedure look like a negative image of a black and white photograph. 

When do you need a chest x-ray?

Your health expert will advise you to undergo a chest x-ray if you are possessing or having the signs of the following conditions such as: 

  1. Chest pain
  2. Chronic cough 
  3. Difficulty in breathing
  4. Fever along with other infections
  5. Congestive heart failure
  6. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases

For your life beat to go on, you need a healthy heart. It is always advised to consult a cardiologist if you have any issues or doubts related to your heart health.

04 Sep 2021
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