Cardiac Health

 Keeping your heart healthy is an important aspect of care at Dillon Internal Medicine. Our healthcare providers use the following tests to evaluate your heart structure and function. These tests help diagnose heart conditions and guide medical treatment.

Electrocardiogram (EKG)

 An EKG is a noninvasive diagnostic exam performed to detect electrical activity in the heart. It is commonly performed after patients have experienced heart attack symptoms including chest pain, shortness of breath and heart palpitations, or as part of a routine heart disease screening. An EKG produces a record of waves that relate to the electrical impulses that occur during each beat of a patient's heart.

This test is performed by attaching electrical wires to the arms, legs and chest. The EKG machine is then started, recording your heart's electrical activity, showing how quickly and regularly your heart beats, as well as the size of the chambers and thickness of the heart walls. Abnormal results from an EKG may indicate signs of a heart condition, which should be further investigated.

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Holter Monitoring

Holter or event monitoring is a tracing technique used for patients whose heart conditions cannot be properly diagnosed through an EKG. These medical devices record the electrical activity of the heart and are often used to diagnose arrhythmias.

Since an EKG only lasts for a few minutes, it may not detect any heart abnormalities if they are not present at that time. The Holter monitor is worn for 24 hours and records the heart's activity throughout that time. This helps to detect arrhythmias that may only occur at certain times, such as after physical exertion.

There is no risk involved in using a Holter monitor. Although some conditions still may not be diagnosed with this device, it is often helpful in identifying the cause of heart rhythm problems.

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Echocardiography

Echocardiography, also known as an ultrasound of the heart, is a diagnostic test used to examine the heart by creating images out of sound waves. This helps determine the size and shape of the heart, as well as how well the different components are functioning.

An echocardiogram can be used to examine:

  • The size of the heart
  • The strength of the heart muscles
  • Heart valve malfunctions
  • Heart structure abnormalities
  • Blood clots or tumors

The results of the test are often used to diagnose high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, congenital heart defects, aneurysms or other heart conditions.

An echocardiogram is a painless procedure performed in our office in less than an hour. The images of the heart are shown on a video monitor in real time for the doctor and patient to view during the exam. The results are fully analyzed by your doctor after the exam. There are no risks associated with an echocardiogram, and patients can return to their normal activities immediately after the exam.

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Stress Test

A stress test is a common diagnostic technique used to determine the amount of stress the heart can manage before developing abnormalities such as arrhythmia or ischemia. Stress tests are performed through a series of exercise activities, during which your heart rate, breathing and blood pressure are monitored.

A stress test may be used for several different reasons, particularly if you are experiencing symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat or fluttering in the chest. The test can help diagnose coronary artery disease or arrhythmia, as well as:

  • Identify effects of a recent heart attack
  • Determine effectiveness of heart medications
  • Determine the cause of a lack of blood flow

During the stress test, electrodes are attached to the skin to record EKG results as you undergo increased levels of exertion while using a treadmill. Although a stress test is not always accurate and can produce "false positives" when diagnosing coronary artery disease, it is often a valuable tool in monitoring the heart during physical activity.

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Nuclear Stress Test

A nuclear stress test is similar to an exercise stress test but combines elements of a nuclear imaging exam to provide more accurate results than a standard exercise electrocardiogram.

During a nuclear stress test, a radioactive substance is injected into the bloodstream. A special scanner is used to detect this substance and capture images of the heart muscle as the patient exercises.

A nuclear stress test may be effective in determining the cause of chest pain, checking the prognosis of patients after a heart attack and determining the effectiveness of previous procedures.

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Educational Videos

Coronary Heart Disease

Heart Attack (Myocardial Infarction)

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Educational Videos