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Diagnosing Heart Conditions

The Heart Center at St. Anthony Hospital in Denver has a wide-range of diagnostic capability so we can accurately diagnose and assess heart disease, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, heart arrhythmias, valve disease and others. Cardiologists, interventional radiologists, nurses and technicians perform diagnostics for both inpatient and outpatient tests. 

Common Heart Tests

  • Electrocardiography (EKG or ECG) - An electrocardiogram measures the electrical activity of the heartbeat. It provides two major kinds of information - whether the electrical activity is normal or slow, fast or irregular and whether parts of the heart are too large or are overworked.
  • Blood Testing - Blood testing for certain cardiac enzymes or heart damage markers can tell physicians if heart muscle damage is occurring. Among the most commonly used test is for creatine kinase (CK) and the enzyme CK-MB.
  • Cardiac Catherterization - A cardiac catheterization provides direct information about the blood pressures and blood-flow patterns within the heart. A special fluid visible by X-ray is injected to create a diagnostic image called an angiogram.
  • Echocardiogram (Echo) - Think of an echocardiogram as an ultrasound movie of the inside of the heart. Using these images, specialists can detect congenital heart defects and other problems related to heart muscle function. 
  • Electrophysiology (EP) - An EP study is a specialized type of cardiac catheterization that provides information about the heart's electrical or rhythm function.
  • Exercise Tests - Exercise tests are used to analyze heart rhythm and stamina. The patient runs on a treadmill or rides an exercise bike at increasing speeds and/or resistance while sensors continuously record the heart rhythm. Oxygen levels may be monitored to determine how efficiently the heart works.
  • Nuclear Medicine / Myocardial Perfusion - This type of test shows how well blood is flowing to the heart muscle (myocardium). A radioactive tracer is injected and images are taken during exercise and at rest. The tracer highlights areas of the heart where there is blood flow. This test
    can help determine the cause of chest pain, safe levels of exercise, the extent of a coronary artery blockage, a post-heart attack prognosis and how effective cardiac procedures have been in improving circulation.
  • Cardiac CT - The CT scan is a noninvasive way to capture images of the heart and lungs without using catheters. Pictures are generally clearer than angiograms and the procedure is faster than an MRI.
  • Cardiac MRI - Magnetic resonance imaging is the "gold standard" for obtaining clear images of the heart and measuring function. Painless magnet waves are used to evaluate the heart as well as blood vessels connected to the heart and lungs.

 *Source: Developed with information from American Heart Association

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