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Cardiac Equipment (Echocardiography and Stress Tests) to Diagnose Arrhythmias Part IV of IV

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Besides non-invasive devices such as ECG tests, loop recorders, non-looping recorders and Holter monitors and invasive procedures such as implantable loop recorders and EP studies there are other common diagnostic equipment a physician uses to evaluate patients suspected of having an arrhythmia.

Exercise Treadmill Stress Test  A stress test is a diagnostic test used to evaluate the health of patients’ coronary arteries.   It is commonly used to rule out the presence of coronary artery hardening in the heart in patients with symptoms of chest pain.   Electrophysiologists also use a treadmill to evaluate causes for fainting, certain types of rapid heartbeat such as exercise induced ventricular tachycardia, and slow heartbeat (2:1 heart block), and can help guide appropriate programming of a defibrillator or a pacemaker.

This test involves having a patient run on an exercise treadmill with progressively increasing grade and speed, while concurrently monitoring the patient with an ECG.   An underlying heart condition can be frequently revealed during the test.  To improve the accuracy of the test, it is often combined with other imaging modalities, such as echocardiogram.

Stress Test

Echocardiogram  An echocardiogram is a  non-invasive test,  where a physician can view images the heart in the same way as an obstetrician images the fetus in the womb.   It works by placing an ultrasound probe on the chest and a real-time beating-heart picture can be immediately seen on a television screen.  This test is excellent for detecting abnormal heart valves such as mitral valve prolapse and aortic stenosis and enlarged hearts.  Further the test can also detect abnormalities in some areas outside the heart and the inner-lining of the heart.   An echocardiogram is completely non-invasive, and uses no radiation, no dye, and posts virtually no risk to any patient.

An Electrophysiologist uses an echocardiogram to help evaluate the health of the heart muscle to determine the ejection fraction and thus the suitability of a defibrillator.   An echocardiogram can reveal certain conditions associated with arrhythmias, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, Epstein anomaly, and arrhythmogenic RV dysplasia.

echo-300x199echo image

Tissue Doppler  A Tissue Doppler test is a specialized test that provides information on how the left ventricles, the main pumping chambers of the heart, works in patients with congestive heart failure.   It used concurrently with a standard echocardiogram.  This test helps identify patients with severe heart failure and who are candidates for cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT).   CRT is a specialized defibrillator or pacemaker that is capable of “resynchronizing” a failing heart to improve patient’s symptoms and heart function.

Stress Echocardiogram. A stress echocardiogram is a test that combines an exercise treadmill test with an imaging tool, the echocardiogram.   This improves the ability to diagnose coronary artery disease (clogged artery of the heart) above and beyond the standard stress ECG test.  This test can also be used to evaluate patients with known or suspected arrhythmias.

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