Milford Regional Medical Center has continually invested in diagnostic technology, knowing that fast and accurate diagnosis of all conditions is key to effective treatment and restoration of health. Nowhere is diagnosis more crucial than in patients presenting with cardiovascular symptoms. It is to this end that Milford Regional has brought together a stellar cardiovascular team including highly trained cardiologists, surgeons, nuclear technologists, exercise specialists, cardiac sonographers and cardiovascular technicians to assure a level of unparalleled excellence in patient care. Whether it be evaluation of the heart’s function, the identification of and effects of a heart attack or the monitoring of a heart patient’s progress, Milford Regional’s expertise has consistently laid the groundwork for determining the most appropriate course of action.
Depending on your condition, one or more of the following cardiovascular diagnostics may be ordered by your physician:
Digital electrocardiography (EKG or ECG) records electrical signals from the heart by attaching several wires to the body and monitoring the electrical activity on a computer screen. This new digital technology, which replaces the traditional method of reading results on a long roll of paper, allows cardiologists to have immediate access to EKGs at remote locations expediting treatment when indicated. Milford Regional is proud to be one of the few hospitals in the area to offer this superior technology. This non-invasive test is not painful. It offers two major kinds of information. First, by measuring time intervals on the EKG, a doctor can determine how long the electrical wave takes to pass through the heart. Finding out how long a wave takes to travel from one part of the heart to the next shows if the electrical activity is normal or slow, fast or irregular. Second, by measuring the amount of electrical activity passing through the heart muscle, a cardiologist may be able to find out if parts of the heart are too large or overworked.
Holter and Event Monitoring
Holter and event monitoring are two ways to record your heartbeat as you go about your daily activities. Each type of monitoring uses a small battery-powered device that you carry with you. They create a record of the rate and rhythm of your heartbeat. A Holter monitor records these readings for 24 to 48 hours. It helps the physician correlate symptoms of dizziness, palpitations (a sensation of fast or irregular heart rhythm) or black outs. An event monitor can record the heartbeat for 30 days or more. When the patient feels an irregular heartbeat or other symptoms, he/she tells the device to make a permanent record of it. Since both monitoring devices recording continuously, they are much more likely to detect an abnormal heart rhythm when compared to the EKG which lasts less than a minute.
Stress tests measure the heart’s response to increasing work levels during exercise on a treadmill. For those who are unable to exercise, pharmaceutical stress tests can be performed for measurement.
The exercise stress test records your heartbeat while exercising on a treadmill. It helps the cardiologist evaluate the cause of chest pain, or measures the strength of your heart after a heart attack or surgery.
The nuclear stress test, called cardiac nuclear imaging, checks blood flow through the muscle of the heart before and after exercise. It uses a radioactive tracer, called Cardiolite, to produce images of the heart muscle. This image is taken by a nuclear scanning camera and transmitted to a computer monitor for viewing. Images are taken during rest and then after exercising on a treadmill for comparison. This test can determine whether there is a blockage in the coronary artery.
Stress tests are a vital component in
diagnostics of the heart.
The echocardiogram stress test combines an ultrasound study of the heart (capturing sound waves off your heart and producing images on a computer screen) with a stress test. Ultrasound images are taken before and after the heart is stressed through exercise on a treadmill to show how the heart muscle works as it beats harder and faster. This test can be used to find a blocked coronary artery or to evaluate the effects of a procedure. For those who cannot exert themselves on a treadmill, the drug dobutamine is given to increase the patient’s heart rate to mimic exercise.
State-of-the-art diagnostics and experienced,
highly qualified cardiologists are an unbeatable combination at Milford Regional.
An echocardiogram (also called an echo) is a type of ultrasound test that uses high-pitched sound waves that are sent through a device called a transducer. The device picks up echoes of the sound waves as they bounce off the different parts of your heart. These echoes are turned into moving pictures of your heart that can be seen on a video screen to help your cardiologist diagnose heart problems. This test assesses the size of the heart, valves, chambers and pumping strength.
A transthoracic echocardiogram bounces harmless sound waves (ultrasound) off your heart through a transducer placed on your chest to help determine the heart’s size and health of its chambers and valves.
A transesophageal echocardiogram views the heart’s anatomy and function. After administering sedation, an ultrasound transducer is place inside the mouth and into the esophagus where sound waves provide images of the heart. The images are clearer than a standard echocardiogram taken from outside the chest. This test is generally used to examine hard-to-see structures of the heart.
With a $3 million investment in the addition of Milford Regional’s Cardiac Catheterization Lab, we are able to offer the “gold standard” against which all other cardiac diagnostic tests are measured. This diagnostic technology offers the clearest look at the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle. It is used to evaluate the pumping ability of the heart, the functioning of the heart valves, and to measure pressures within the heart. It helps to diagnose the location and severity of blockages, narrowing of the arteries, coronary artery disease, defective heart valves, congenital heart defects and disease of the heart muscle.
While under conscious sedation, a thin, hollow, flexible tube (a catheter) is inserted into the patient. With the traditional method, the tube is inserted through the femoral artery in the groin. We now offer a new technique called transradial artery catheterization – where the tube is inserted in the patient’s wrist. With both methods, under X-ray visualization, the tip of the catheter is guided to the heart. Pressures are measured and an X-ray Angiogram (Angio) movie of the heart and blood vessels are obtained while injecting a colorless “dye” or contrast material through the catheter.
Currently, 75 – 85% of patients who need a catheterization are eligible for the transradial approach. The quality of the images produced by both types of catheterizations are identical, but the benefits of using the radial artery far outweigh the femoral site. Although the femoral cath is extremely safe, access through the radial artery has even less risk. It is also much easier and safer to seal the radial artery after the procedure is over, and recovery time is much faster and more comfortable for the patient.
Some patients may not be candidates for the transradial catheterization. If a patient’s radial artery is not healthy, large, or open enough, it may not withstand the catheter. Some patients who have undergone bypass surgery or have had a recent procedure accessed through this artery may prevent the use of the transradial cath as well.
Cardiac catheterization brings the gold standard of care in cardiac diagnostics to Milford Regional.