Cardiovascular Imaging and Diagnostics
Cardiovascular Diagnostic Tests
Heart disease is a serious problem in the United States. Many people are unaware they have a problem until it compromises their health. And cardiovascular conditions tend to get worse with time, not better – which is why early detection can save lives.
The cardiologists at Cardiac & Vascular Care in San Jose, California want to see you if you suspect you have a heart or circulation problem. Our screenings can provide comprehensive detail about the structure and function of the heart and blood vessels. In some cases, we can treat you during the same visit.
We offer a variety of cardiac imaging and other cardiovascular diagnostic tests, including:
The ABI is a quick, noninvasive screening for peripheral artery disease. It compares the blood pressure at your ankle with the blood pressure taken at your arm, as a measure of how well blood is flowing to the legs.
Lab work such as blood tests may be used to identify your risk of cardiovascular problems. High levels of certain fats, cholesterol, sugar, and proteins may indicate a risk of coronary artery disease.
Blood tests may also be used to check for certain biomarkers that indicate a heart attack occurred – such as the proteins released when heart muscle cells die.
The prothrombin time (PT) blood test identifies how quickly your blood clots and may be used to monitor the effectiveness of certain medications, such as blood thinners. This blood test is sometimes referred to as a ProTime INR or PT/INR test, and involves a quick prick of a finger to get a blood sample.
Cardiac catheterization describes the image-guided, minimally invasive procedure in which a catheter (with camera) is inserted at an incision in the groin, neck, or arm, and threaded through blood vessels to the heart. It is used to diagnose and treat a variety of cardiovascular conditions.
Cardiac MRI is magnetic resonance imaging that is used to produce images of the heart and blood vessels to identify and monitor heart disease. It may be performed with or without the use of a contrast dye.
“Carotid” refers to the arteries that deliver blood to your brain. If these blood vessels become blocked, it could lead to a stroke. “Aortic arch” refers to the arch of the aortic artery located above the heart. Carotid and aortic arch vascular exams indicate any procedure assessing the status of these arteries.
A CT scan uses X-ray technology, in conjunction with an injection of a contrast dye, to create detailed 3D images of blood vessels and tissue within the body. A CTA can detect bleeding and plaque buildup in blood vessels.
Cardiac calcium scoring is a CT scan of the heart and its blood vessels. It measures the amount of calcium (hardened plaque) in the coronary arteries to calculate your risk of developing coronary artery disease. This test is also called a heart CT scan.
An angiogram is a special X-ray test. During this test, contrast material is typically injected into your bloodstream to help capture detailed images of blood vessels.
An angiogram of the heart (coronary angiography) detects blockage within the coronary arteries, which move oxygenated and nutrient-rich blood to the heart. This test is used to identify the exact location and severity of coronary artery disease.
An electrocardiogram uses signals from electrodes placed on the skin to record the electrical activity of your heart. It's a common noninvasive test used to detect irregular functioning, such as cardiac arrhythmia.
Another test to assess the electrical activity of the heart, an electrophysiology test is used to identify abnormal functioning of the heart. Unlike the noninvasive EKG, however, an electrophysiology test is minimally invasive – it involves a catheter (with electrodes) that enters the body through an incision in the groin, neck, or arm, and is threaded through blood vessels that enter the heart.
A thorough assessment of an implanted cardiac device (pacemaker or implantable cardioverter-defibrillators) should be done on a regular basis. We will check to ensure that the device is working properly and has sufficient battery life. A physician can also check any logged data regarding heart rate and rhythm.
- Exercise treadmill testing – A type of stress test in which the patient is hooked up to an electrocardiogram (EKG) machine and asked to exercise – in this case, on a treadmill.
- Nuclear stress test – This involves the additional step of injecting a radioactive dye into the bloodstream before a patient undergoes stress testing. The dye helps a special scanner to create images of the heart. Light spots on the images reveal that the dye did not make it all the way into the heart via the bloodstream and may indicate inadequate blood flow to the heart.
Ultrasound imaging examines blood flow in arteries and veins, looking for blockages or problems with blood flow such as the buildup of plaque. Our team may recommend one or more of the following types of vascular ultrasound tests to diagnose your cardiovascular issue:
- Carotid ultrasound – examines the carotid arteries, which deliver blood from the heart to the brain
- Duplex ultrasound – examines veins that return blood to the heart
- Venous Doppler ultrasound – examines the large arteries and veins of the legs and arms. The Doppler technique can identify the speed and other characteristics of blood moving within the veins. It is used to analyze moving objects (in this case, blood flow) – as opposed to carotid and duplex ultrasounds, which use traditional ultrasound technology that bounces off blood vessels to create an image of what’s there.
In addition, knowing your family history can help predict your heart’s future. Inherited or genetic risk factors can help you assess your risk of heart or circulatory problems. You can then manage the risks through medical intervention and healthy lifestyle changes. Don’t wait until it is too late.
To learn more about our cardiovascular diagnostics, call our San Jose office at (408) 295-2257. To schedule an appointment, you can call us or use our online appointment request form.