Heart disease and problems remain one of the leading causes of death and disability worldwide. Therefore, it is of great importance both the prevention, as well as the detection and diagnosis of cardiac pathologies as early as possible.
Next, we briefly discuss the tests used in cardiology for the diagnosis and detection of cardiac problems and diseases:
It is a simple test that does not cause discomfort and does not have risks for the patient.
It allows to measure the heart rhythm and the regularity of the beats, determine the size and position of the atria and ventricles, detect damage to the heart, and also observe the effects that certain drugs or implanted devices such as pacemakers may have on it.
The electrocardiogram is very useful for the diagnosis of various conditions, being especially important in the detection and analysis of cardiac arrhythmias, for which the detection of alterations in the heart rhythm is essential. It is also especially useful in the diagnosis of acute episodes of coronary disease, such as myocardial infarctions.
The ergometry or stress test consists in the performance by the patient of physical exercise on a treadmill or exercise bike, while the medical team monitors their heart rate and other vital signs for diagnostic purposes.
Thus, this test makes it possible to assess the prognosis of coronary diseases under study or already diagnosed, being useful for estimating the capacity for physical exercise and assessing the effect of treatment in patients with known coronary pathologies.
It is currently used in the study of a wide variety of heart diseases: high blood pressure, advanced heart failure, rhythm disturbances, congenital heart disease, etc.
It is a small electronic device that records the patient’s electrocardiogram for at least 24 hours, while they normally carry out their daily activities, without the patient being in the hospital. This device is used in those cases in which it is suspected that there may be a cardiac arrhythmia or to diagnose ischemia (lack of blood supply) of the heart muscle.
It is another of the fundamental tests in all types of cardiological diagnoses, since it allows to see moving images of the heart, through the use of ultrasound. In this way it provides information about the shape, size, function, strength of the heart, movement and thickness of its walls and the operation of its valves. It also allows studying the pulmonary circulation and its pressures, the initial portion of the aorta and seeing if there is fluid around the heart (pericardial effusion).
Cardiac catheterization and coronary angiography
Cardiac catheterization is a complex and invasive procedure that consists of the introduction of catheters that are taken to the heart to assess the anatomy of the heart and the coronary arteries, as well as check how much blood the heart pumps, measure pressures in the heart chambers and even check if there are alterations in any valve. It can also detect birth defects, measure oxygen concentrations in different parts of the heart, and obtain tissue samples to diagnose certain diseases.
On the other hand, coronary angiography is a technique that completes catheterization, being performed in the same procedure as this one. To perform coronary angiography, a contrast is injected, to see the coronary arteries by X-ray. This allows to check if there are obstructions or narrowings in the coronary arteries, their exact location, the number of affected arteries or the severity of the lesions (narrowing).
In this way, these tests provide data that cannot be obtained in any other way, although given how invasive they are and their complexity, they are performed only in those cases where they are really necessary.
CT scan of the heart
Computed tomography, which is a painless test that uses X-rays, is one of the imaging tests used in a wide variety of diagnoses, including heart disease.
In the case of cardiological diagnoses it is used to take clear images of the heart and its blood vessels, which are used to detect and evaluate coronary artery diseases, calcium accumulation in the coronary arteries, aortic problems, problems with the heart and valve function, pericardial disorders…
To perform the tomography, it is necessary to inject a contrast that makes the heart and blood vessels stand out in the images. The test takes just 15 minutes to complete.
Another imaging test that is also used in cardiology is magnetic resonance imaging. It is a harmless test that uses radio waves, magnets, and computer processing to take precise, very sharp, and detailed images of the heart.
The analysis and interpretation of these images by the specialist allows him to decide the best treatment for heart problems such as coronary artery diseases, heart valve problems, pericarditis, heart tumors, damage due to a heart attack, etc.
This test is performed using a large tunnel-like MRI scanner into which the patient is inserted to take the images, which takes about 60 minutes. Sometimes, a contrast that makes the heart and blood vessels stand out in the pictures is administered.
Cardiology tests used in general check-ups
Of the previous diagnostic tests, the tests that are usually performed in general and routine cardiological examinations are the electrocardiogram, ergometry or stress test, and echocardiogram, since they are simple tests to perform, non-invasive and without risks for the patient that are performed in just a matter of minutes, allowing to detect if there are signs of a heart condition.
As part of these reviews, a study of the patient’s general medical history is also carried out. On the other hand, it is common to perform such routine cardiology tests prior to performing all types of surgical procedures.
Heart disease diagnoses and cardiology check-ups at Vithas Xanit Internacional
Whether it is just a preventive checkup or a diagnosis of a heart condition or problem, at Vithas Xanit Internacional we put at your disposal the best specialists in cardiology, who together with the most recent technologies and techniques allow us to offer you the most accurate diagnoses and reviews, as well as the best treatment options. Contact us for more information or make an appointment.