Heart & Vascular Tests

Find out how healthy your heart and blood vessels are with a cardiovascular test at Johnston Health. Doctors and technicians will explain your procedure, help you feel comfortable, and provide timely results, so you can arrange any follow-up care you need.

Heart Imaging

See your heart’s valves, structure, and movement with one of these tests:

  • Echocardiogram – Sends painless ultrasound waves through your chest to take pictures of the heart
    • Transesophageal echocardiogram – Creates ultrasound images from the back of the heart by using a tiny tube and camera that slide down your throat
  • Cardiac catheterization – Puts a catheter (thin tube) into a heart artery to check for blockages, which show up on a video X-ray screen

Heart Stress Tests

Your doctor may recommend one of the following tests to see how well your heart responds when it has to work harder:

  • Exercise stress test – Measures heart rate while you walk or jog on a treadmill
  • Dobutamine stress test – Gives you medicine to make your heart pump faster if you cannot perform an exercise stress test
  • Nuclear stress test – Uses slightly radioactive material to make blood vessels easier to see on a special video screen
  • Stress echocardiogram – Uses ultrasound technology to show how well your heart pumps blood during exercise

Heart Rhythm Tests

You may receive one of these tests to learn more about an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia):

  • Holter monitoring and event monitoring – Uses sensors attached to your chest to record the heart’s rhythm for one or two days (Holter monitoring) or up to a month (event monitoring)
  • EKG – Records a few moments of your heart’s electrical activity through small patches attached to your chest
  • Electrophysiology study – Inserts a catheter (thin tube) into an artery or vein and up to your heart to record electrical signals
  • Loop recorder implantation – Measures the heart’s electrical signals for up to three years through a small device placed under your skin

Heart Failure Monitoring

If you have heart failure, a doctor may implant a tiny CardioMEMS™ device in your pulmonary artery (vessel that carries blood to the lungs). This device detects changes in blood pressure that mean heart failure is worsening. Your doctor receives the data wirelessly and can use it to adjust your medications or treatment plan before you notice symptoms. That may prevent your need for a hospital stay.

Vascular Tests

To assess the health of your blood vessels, a doctor may use:

  • Ankle brachial index – Checks for peripheral artery disease (PAD) by comparing blood pressure in your ankle to blood pressure in your upper arm
  • Doppler ultrasound – Uses sound waves to show blood flow and blockages in arteries or veins
  • Pulse volume recording – Examines blood flow in your legs or arms by using blood pressure cuffs and ultrasound, sometimes as you walk on a treadmill

Talk to Your Doctor

If your doctor refers you to UNC Health Johnston for cardiovascular care, ask your doctor’s office to schedule an appointment for you.

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