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Published on Mar 1, 2012
WHAT IS NON-INVASIVE TESTING? Cardiac monitoring is conducted on patients who report cardiac symptoms. There are several types of non-invasive tests. These tests do not involve cutting or undergoing anesthesia. We take high tech images and sometimes inject a tracer into someone's blood stream. These give detailed pictures of a patient's heart and how it is functioning to help the physician reach a diagnosis quickly and accurately and help determine the treatment. We are looking for valve problems or areas of the heart that are not getting enough blood flow. We take pictures of the heart muscle to see where blood is flowing to see if there are any scars or heart damage. We look for abnormalities.
WHO IS A GOOD CANDIDATE? Cardiac non-invasive testing can be very helpful for patients who are experiencing symptoms. We use non-invasive testing to follow patients who already have documented heart problems especially valvular problems. We choose patients carefully to make sure they are not high-risk patients.
IS NON-INVASIVE TESTING MORE ACCURATE THAN INVASIVE TESTING? They give you two different pieces of information. A heart catheterization, which is an invasive test, lets you look at the arteries going to the heart muscle and you can look for blockages there. The stress testing lets us know if that blockage is reducing blood flow to the heart muscle enough that it's going to light up on the camera.
IS THIS SAFE? ARE THERE ANY RISKS TO THE PATIENT?
The nuclear stress test does give you a small radiation dose. That's why we don't do them every six months or a year on our patients that have had heart disease in the past. We may do them every three-5 years to limit the radiation dose. The echocardiogram is of no risk whatsoever.
HOW QUICKLY WILL YOU KNOW RESULTS?
We look at the test within an hour or two of testing. If we see something dramatic or concerning, the patient does not leave our office until we talk to them and address the issue. If we find something really concerning, the patient may go to the hospital immediately but that's rare. We choose our patients carefully so they're not high risk.