Understanding Heart Diagnostics
Pekin Hospital cares about you and your heart. We hope that the information below will answer your questions about heart testing. If you have additional questions, please call the Diagnostic Center at (309) 353-0410 or contact your physician.
What is an Echocardiogram (ECHO)?
An ECHO is a noninvasive procedure that uses sound waves (ultrasound) to evaluate how well the heart is working. Gel is applied to the chest and a transducer is moved over the chest area to produce an image of the internal structures of the heart. The ECHO will take 30-60 minutes, depending on the patient's condition and type of ECHO needed. This test will help the physician evaluate how well your heart is moving, how well the valves are working and the size of the heart and its pumping chambers (ventricles).
An ECHO must be ordered by a physician. No preparation is necessary.
What is Holter Monitoring?
Holter monitoring is a continuous, 24-hour electrocardiographic recording (EKG or ECG) of the heart's rhythm. Electrodes are placed on the chest area with leads attached to a small recorder. The patient will receive instructions regarding care of the monitor while wearing it.
The patient will be asked to keep a diary for 24 hours to record daily activities and any symptoms experienced. It will take approximately 15 minutes to have the monitor put on. You will return the next day to have the monitor removed.
Results of the Holter monitoring will help the physician evaluate the type and amount of irregular heartbeats during regular activities, exercise and sleep. The test must be ordered by a physician. No lotions may be applied to the skin while wearing the electrodes.
What is a Treadmill Stress Test (TST)?
A Treadmill Stress Test records the heart's electrical activity during exercise. Electrodes will be placed on the patient's chest (the same as for an ECG), and the patient will be asked to walk on a treadmill. The speed and incline of the treadmill will increase in, usually, 3-minute increments. The patient's blood pressure and ECG will be monitored continuously.
During the test, a cardiologist and technicians are present. The cardiologist will observe any changes in the ECG or symptoms that the patient might have during the test. The cardiologist will have the patient exercise until the patient reaches a predetermined heart rate (Target Heart Rate) or the patient becomes too tired to continue testing.
The TST will help the physician evaluate the patient's cardiac condition in regard to irregular heart rhythms, decreased supply of blood and oxygen to the heart with exercise, how hard the heart can work before symptoms develop, how quickly the heart recovers after exercise, the patient's cardiovascular conditioning, and what percent of the target heart rate the patient reaches.
This test must be ordered by a physician. It usually takes about one hour from hook-up to finish. For preparation, the patient should have no Beta-blockers, digitalis, calcium channel blockers for 48 hours, or as directed by physician.
What is a Stress Echocardiogram (Stress ECHO)?
A Stress ECHO is a noninvasive test that combines two tests - the treadmill stress test and the echocardiogram. An ECHO is done at rest before exercise and immediately after peak exercise. This test will help the physician evaluate the patient's overall cardiac condition related to irregular heart rhythms, decreased supply of blood and oxygen to the heart at rest and with exertion, cardiovascular conditioning, how hard the heart works before onset of symptoms and how quickly the heart recovers after exercise.
A Stress ECHO must be ordered by a physician and usually takes 60-90 minutes. For preparation, the patient should have no Beta-blockers, digitalis, or calcium channel blockers for 48 hours prior to the exam. He or she should have no caffeine for 24 hours, should not smoke for six hours and should wear comfortable walking shoes and clothes. The patient should arrive 30 minutes prior to the appointment time and use the Park Avenue entrance.