Heart and Vascular Diagnostic Services
The Heart and Vascular Institute at UM Upper Chesapeake Health includes an experienced team of highly trained specialists that prides itself on providing superior, high-level care for your heart in convenient, close to home setting. We offer some of the most comprehensive cardiovascular programs in the area.
Cardiac Catheterization Lab
A cardiac catheterization allows a cardiologist to see instant moving images of your heart. These images show the pumping function and can identify blockages in the arteries that feed the heart muscle. The purpose of the procedure is to diagnose patients who have various forms of heart disease. It usually takes about 30 minutes and is generally painless. Pacemaker and AICD (automatic internal cardiac defibrillator) insertions are performed in the lab in addition to catheterizations. After the diagnostic test is complete, your cardiologist reviews all the images to determine if there is narrowing or blockages requiring further treatment. Our team will determine whether problems can be treated with medicine, a therapeutic interventional procedure or bypass surgery.
Cardiac CT Scan
A cardiac CT scan is a painless imaging test that uses x-rays to take pictures of your heart and blood vessels. It assesses whether calcium deposits are present as these deposits are the most effective way to identify atherosclerosis (the hardening and narrowing of arteries) before symptoms develop. Our LightSpeed VCT (Volume Computed Tomography) scanner offers incredible speed and image quality, capturing images of the heart in just five heartbeats and other organs in only a second. This advanced technology turns the images into 3-D views that physicians can use to diagnose and decide the best course of treatment. This scanner is used for a variety of procedures, including cancer care, stroke workup, and kidney and liver exams, but it is most beneficial for cardiac imaging.
Cardiac Stress Test
A cardiac stress or exercise electrocardiogram (EKG) is a test that checks for changes in your heart while you exercise. Sometimes abnormalities can be seen only during exercise or while symptoms are present. This test is sometimes referred to as a "stress test" or a "treadmill test." During a stress test, you may either walk on a motor-driven treadmill or pedal a stationary bicycle. Your heart's electrical activity is then translated into line tracings on paper and compared to your resting EKG.
Our Cardiac Ultrasound Laboratory provides studies of the blood flow through the heart and measures the heart's pumping ability to assess conditions such as fluid around the heart or congestive heart failure. One of a select number of echocardiography labs in the U.S., we screen for, diagnose and monitor cardiac disease in both adults and children.
An electrocardiogram (EKG), measures the electrical activity of your heart, the rate and regularity of heartbeats, the presence of any damage to the heart and the effects of drugs or devices used to regulate the heart (such as a pacemaker). EKG results can also help your doctor diagnose coronary artery disease. During an EKG, your heart is evaluated and responses recorded as it’s being challenged during the exercise. Like a stress test, a patient will use a treadmill or stationary bike as the doctor or trained provider carefully monitors your symptoms and assesses how your heart reacts to the stress. This exercise helps to detect any chest pain, shortness of breath, abnormal rhythms and palpitations and provides insight into the health of your heart valves and blood flow.
A major heart attack occurs when a significant blockage occurs in a coronary artery. This is called an ST-elevation myocardial infarction (or STEMI). The quicker someone with this type of heart attack has the coronary artery opened, the better the chances are for survival and less permanent damage to the heart. The preferred treatment for this is emergency angioplasty and the benefit depends on how quickly an individual is treated.
In this procedure, a thin wire with a tiny balloon on the end is threaded through an artery to the blockage. When the balloon is inflated, it clears the blockage and restores blood flow to the heart. Our team has undergone extensive training in emergency angioplasty with the goal to assess, prepare and safely transport patients to our cardiac catheterization lab in 90 minutes or less. And our interventional cardiologists performing the emergency angioplasties have many years of experience and expertise in delivering this procedure.
Many people have irregular heartbeats, also called arrhythmias, from time to time. The importance of irregular heartbeats depends on the type of pattern they produce, how often they occur, how long they last and whether they occur at the same time you have symptoms. Because arrhythmias can occur off and on, it may be difficult to record an arrhythmia while you are in the doctor's office. Physicians tend to order a Holter monitor in these cases since it can continuously record your heart's rhythm for 24 hours. A standard EKG monitors only 40 to 50 heartbeats during the brief period you are attached to the machine while a Holter monitors about 100,000 heartbeats in 24 hours and is likely to find any heart problems that occur with activity.
Nuclear Cardiology Studies
The most common nuclear cardiology study is a cardiac perfusion scan. This scan measures the amount of blood in your heart muscle at rest and during exercise. It is often done to find out what may be causing chest pain, and it is performed after a heart attack to see if areas of the heart are not getting enough blood or how much heart muscle has been damaged.
The Vascular Ultrasound Laboratory provides studies of the blood flow through the arteries and veins to diagnose blockages that may lead to a stroke or pulmonary embolism. Commonly known as Doppler or duplex studies, vascular ultrasound tests use high-pitched sound waves to reflect off the blood vessels and create pictures of the blood moving through the veins and arteries. These images give your doctor information on the anatomy of your arteries and veins and can indicate possible blockages and clots.