The term arrhythmia refers to irregularities in your heartbeat. It’s a broad, general term, and if you’ve been told you have arrhythmia, it could mean several things.
Early identification of heart disease is one of the most important steps in keeping you healthy. At Heart & Vascular Institute, with three locations in Michigan, our experts provide state-of-the-art care that helps them diagnose potential problems before they become much larger problems — and more difficult to treat.
If you need tests to make sure your heart and vascular system are functioning properly, you may imagine a procedure that requires anesthesia, or even some kind of surgery. Although some cardiovascular tests are like that, there are also several tests that are completely non-invasive, which means you don’t even get a needle stick.
In this post, we describe some of those noninvasive tests and what they’re used for.
Sometimes referred to as an EKG or an ECG, an electrocardiogram is a test that records the electrical activity in your heart. An EKG can reveal if you’ve had a heart attack, or if one may be developing. It can also show changes in your heart rhythm.
When you have an EKG, your provider places electrodes at various places on your body that measure the electrical impulses of your heart. The only pain you might feel is when the electrode stickers are removed.
Sometimes your doctor may want to see how your heart performs throughout the course of a typical day. Holter monitoring is a type of testing that requires you to wear a small device that does a continuous EKG for a period of time. That is, the device records the electrical activity of your heart while you’re wearing it. The monitors are small and have electrodes that stick to your skin.
Like an EKG, there are no side effects and the monitor isn’t painful. It allows your doctor to see if your heart is beating regularly, or if your medications aren’t working as they should be. It can also show whether you may need more tests.
If your doctor says you need an “echo,” they mean an echocardiogram, which produces images of your heart with ultrasound technology. When you have an echocardiogram, your doctor can see the size, shape, and motion of your heart.
During the test, a technician passes a tool called a transducer over your heart. The transducer produces sound waves, which “echo” off of your heart. The transducer records the echoes, and a computer program turns the sound into images of your heart.
There are no side effects of an echocardiogram, and it’s a painless test.
You’ve probably heard of a stress test, but it may have been called a treadmill test or an exercise test. When you have a stress test, electrodes are attached to your chest to record your heart’s activity as you walk on a treadmill. The test records your heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure, as well as the electrical activity of your heart.
A stress test can identify coronary artery disease, may identify the cause of any chest pains you’re having, and can help determine what a safe amount of exercise is for you.
Cardiovascular testing can be painless and it could save your life. If you need cardiovascular testing, schedule an appointment at Heart & Vascular Institute. We have three convenient locations, in Dearborn, Detroit, and Southfield, Michigan, and you can schedule at any of them online or by phone.
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