Additional Information about Common Tests and Procedures

​A stent is another procedure to open a narrowed or blocked artery.  The stent is a metal tube shaped like a spring that is mounted on a balloon catheter. It is placed in the artery at the site of the blockage.  When the balloon is inflated, the stent expands and is pushed against the inner wall of the artery. When the balloon is removed, the stent remains in place, keeping the artery open. The stent is a permanent implant that remains in your artery, to help keep the artery open.

Permanent Pacemaker 
This is a device placed under the skin that uses wiring (usually passed through a vein) placed inside the heart that is used to treat slow heart rhythms.  These devices last for several years after implantation, but require periodic evaluation to make sure appropriate function is present.

EKG (Electrocardiograms or ECG)
This is a test designed to look at the electrical activity of the heart over a seconds of time.  This test can establish the heart rate and rhythm as well as identify several heart abnormalities, such as a heart attack, thickening of the heart muscle, or enlargement of the heart chambers

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Cardiac Stress Testing
A stress test is designed to see how the heart responds to stress by monitoring physical symptoms, EKG recordings of the heart, and blood pressure.  This can be accomplished in many ways, including with a treadmill or with the assistance of medications that simulate physical stress.  This test can be completed with or without imaging of the heart.

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Also called PTCA - Percutaneous Transluminal Coronary Angioplasty)
Angioplasty is a procedure to open a narrowed or blocked artery. Coronary angioplasty helps more blood flow through heart arteries by opening up a narrowed section. The arteries become blocked with fatty deposits called plaque.
The cardiologist places a balloon into the narrowing of the artery and inflates the balloon.  The inflated balloon opens the narrowing by compressing the plaque and stretching the wall of the artery.  Repeated inflation and deflation of the balloon may be necessary to effectively open the artery. You may experience some chest pain or discomfort during the inflation of the balloon, but the discomfort should decrease when the balloon is deflated. After the artery has been opened the cardiologist will remove the balloon device.

Cardiac Catherization or Angiogram
This test is also called "Cardiac Cath." It is an X-Ray procedure that is used to examine the arteries of the heart with a special camera. A thin plastic tube (catheter) is inserted into an artery of your leg or arm and directed into the coronary arteries by a trained Cardiologist. Dye is then injected into the arteries of the heart to visualize any problems within the arteries. 


​This is an ultrasound of the heart.  This is a painless test where an ultrasound probe is placed on the skin of the chest.  Sound wave images of the heart are collected and allow physicians to assess the heart and heart structures such as the heart valves.

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Implantable Cardiac Defibrillator (ICD or AICD)
These devices are similar to pacemakers, but in addition to treating slow heart rates, these devices also treat deadly fast heart rhythms.  These devices are designed to recognize lethal rhythms and deliver a shock to the heart to reset the heart rhythm.  Like pacemakers these devices need periodic evaluation to make sure appropriate function is present. 

Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)
Transesophageal echocardiograhy is a painless ultrasound imaging exam. The instrument used is inserted through the mouth and passed into the esophagus. Because the heart and esophagus are close together, and there are no boney structures between them, TEE can provide a clear image of the heart.


Cardioversion is a way to restore your heart to a normal rhythm. Chemical cardioversion is done with medications. An electrical cardioversion uses electricity to help the heartbeat become normal again. During electrical cardioversion, the heart receives a brief electric shock that stops all electrical activity in the heart for a brief moment and a regular normal heart rhythm can then take over.

24 Hour Holter Monitor
A holter monitor may be scheduled for several reasons. Your doctor may want a record of your chest pain, irregular or fast heart rates, dizziness, or fainting spells. It may also be done to see if a new heart medication you are taking is working properly.
Holter monitoring allows your physician to review your heart's activity for 24 hours. The monitor itself is the size of a large portable cassette recorder. It is attached to your belt or carried in a pouch with a strap around your neck. The monitor records the activity of your heart on a magnetic tape. After you return the monitor, the magnetic tape is played back through a machine and the results are reported to your doctor.


30 Day Event Monitor
Event monitoring is a painless way to record your heartbeat away from the doctor’s office.  It is a small electrocardiogram (EKG) that you carry with you and records your heartbeat for your doctor to review later. The Event Monitor lets you record your irregular heartbeat as you feel it by simply pressing a button.   
The monitor is a small device that can be hooked to your belt or placed in a pocket. There are three small pads (electrodes) that are placed on your chest and wires are attached. You can disconnect the device to take showers. When you have a symptom, you will depress the button on the device, which will record your heart rhythm (the monitor can store numerous symptoms). When you are by a telephone, you simply call the company and follow the instructions to send in your rhythm.