Heart Disease (cont.)
Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
Daniel Lee Kulick, MD, FACC, FSCAI
Dr. Kulick received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Southern California, School of Medicine. He performed his residency in internal medicine at the Harbor-University of California Los Angeles Medical Center and a fellowship in the section of cardiology at the Los Angeles County-University of Southern California Medical Center. He is board certified in Internal Medicine and Cardiology.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- Heart disease facts
- Introduction to heart disease
- What are the risk factors for heart disease?
- What are the symptoms of heart disease?
- How is heart disease diagnosed?
- Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)
- Stress testing
- Perfusion studies
- Computerized tomography
- Heart catheterization or coronary angiography
- What is the treatment for heart disease?
- Prevention of heart disease
- Modifying risk factors for heart disease
- Medications for heart disease
- Angioplasty and stents for heart disease
- Surgery for heart disease
- Heart Disease FAQs
- Find a local Cardiologist in your town
Used with or without exercise, echocardiography can assess how the heart works. Using sound waves to generate an image, a cardiologist can evaluate many aspects of the heart. Echocardiograms can examine the structure of the heart including the heart valves, the thickness of the heart muscle, the septum (the tissues that separate the four heart chambers from each other) and the pericardial sac (the outside lining of the heart).
The test can indirectly assess blood flow to parts of the heart muscle. If there is decreased blood flow, then segments of the heart wall may not beat as strongly as adjacent heart muscle. These wall motion abnormalities signal the potential for coronary artery disease.
The echocardiogram can also assess the efficiency of the heart by measuring ejection fraction. Normally when the heart beats, it pushes more than 60% of the blood in the ventricle out to the body. Many diseases of the heart, including coronary artery disease, can decrease this percentage (the ejection fraction).
Radioactive chemicals like thallium or technetium can be injected into a vein and their uptake measured in heart muscle cells. Abnormally decreased uptake can signify decreased blood flow to parts of the heart because of coronary artery narrowing. This test may be used when the patient's baseline EKG is not normal and is less reliable when used to monitor a stress test.
The latest generation of CT scanners can take detailed images of blood vessels and may be used as an adjunct to determine whether coronary artery disease is present. In some institutions, the heart CT is used as a negative predictor. That means that the test is done to prove that the coronary arteries are normal rather than to prove that the disease is present.
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