Diagnosing Heart Disease

At our practice, cardiac care means providing diagnostic testing and treatment that’s professional, considerate, and kind.   Our staff is here to make your visit as comfortable as possible, while our physicians use sophisticated techniques — like those below — to ensure accurate diagnoses.

Cardiac Catheterization

During this procedure, we insert a very small tube — a catheter — into a blood vessel through your arm, groin, or neck, and extend it to your heart. Contrast dye injected through the catheter shows how your heart’s blood vessels are working.

A cardiac cath can measure heart muscle and valve function. It can also show if plaque is narrowing or blocking your coronary arteries as a result of coronary artery disease.

Cardiac Computed Tomography (CT)

We use X-ray equipment to produce pictures of your coronary arteries so you can see if they are blocked or narrowed by plaque. The test result is known as your cardiac calcium score.


Also called an “echo,” this test is done to check how the valves and chambers of your heart are working. The test can also reveal the size of the heart and the thickness and movement of the heart wall.

During an echocardiogram, a health care provider — typically a radiographer or sonographer —  uses ultrasound to create a moving picture of your heart. Echocardiograms are painless and noninvasive.


Often called an “EKG” or “ECG” for short, an electrocardiogram measures your heart’s electrical activity. It can reveal signs of heart disease and help predict a heart attack or confirm that a heart attack has occurred.

During an EKG, a health care technician places sensors on your chest, arms, and legs. The sensors are connected to an electrocardiogram machine, which creates a three-dimensional map of your heart’s electrical rhythm. You simply lie still while the map is made; EKGs are painless and noninvasive.

EP Study (Electrophysiology Study)

When we need to determine the cause of an irregular heartbeat, we may use an EP study to test and map the electrical signals that cause your heart to beat. During this procedure, you are mildly sedated so a doctor can guide a catheter through an insertion point in a vein — typically near the groin — up toward your heart. Once in place, the catheter can both send and measure electronic signals that will let us better understand how your heart is functioning. While you shouldn’t experience any pain during the procedure, we may speed up or slow down your heart as we evaluate its rhythm, which can produce unusual sensations.

Exercise Stress Test

During this test — sometimes known as a treadmill test, exercise cardiac stress test, or ECST — sensors are placed on your chest to record your heart as you exercise on a treadmill or stationary bike. Your heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, and electrical activity are monitored and recorded, along with any symptoms you may experience, to look for indications of coronary artery disease and angina (that chest pain caused by a shortage of oxygen reaching the heart muscle).

Holter Monitoring or Ambulatory EKG

We use this test to record your heart’s electrical activity throughout the day. Unlike a regular EKG, which shows your heart’s activity at one moment in time, an ambulatory EKG shows us how your heart functions over a longer period of time and while you’re going about your daily routine.

During the test you wear a Holter or mobile cardiac telemetry (MCT) monitor; these are portable devices with sensors that attach to your skin.

Nuclear Cardiology

During these noninvasive tests, we insert a small amount of radioactive tracer into a vein. When the tracer reaches the heart, a sensitive device called a gamma camera detects the radiation and takes pictures and video of the heart. We perform these tests in stages, while you rest and then while you exercise.

Nuclear cardiology tests include:

  • Myocardial Perfusion Imaging: We use this test to show blood flow and identify heart conditions. It is sometimes called a nuclear stress test.
  • Radionuclide Ventriculography: This test shows us how well your heart is pumping. It measures the amount of blood pumped out of your heart with each beat, called your ejection fraction.
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET): We use this test to learn about the flow of blood to your heart and how your heart is functioning. It also helps us to assess the damage from any past heart attacks.

Vascular Ultrasound

During this test, we use high-frequency sound waves to generate images of blood flow within your veins and arteries. Vascular ultrasound is painless and noninvasive.