Diagnostic Cardiology Services
Western Baptist Hospital offers testing in the Baptist Heart Center to help your physician diagnose heart problems, including electrocardiograms, ultrasound echocardiograms, Holter monitoring, stress testing, tilt table tests, nuclear medicine and CT.
Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG)
An electrocardiogram is a recording of the heart's electrical activity on a strip of moving paper. It is one of the first tests used to diagnose heart disease, although a normal EKG doesn't guarantee that the heart and coronary arteries are normal. Many patients receive EKGs prior to having surgery to make sure the heart is functioning normally. Patients having preoperative EKGs are seen in Western Baptist Hospital's Outpatient Center.
Cardiac 64-slice CT
An echocardiogram uses sound waves to produce pictures of the heart in motion. It is used to diagnose abnormalities of the heart valves, the heart muscle and the fluid-filled sac surrounding the heart. Echocardiograms are performed in the hospital's Radiology department.
Cardiac ultrasound is also performed in the Radiology department.
Holter monitoring is a continuous recording of your heart's electrical activity for 24 hours while you go about your normal activities. It is very useful in diagnosing abnormal heart rhythms and in determining whether recurring symptoms such as dizziness, fainting and palpitations are caused by abnormal rhythms. Holter monitoring is offered in the hospital's Cardiology department.
Stress tests are used to determine the likelihood of heart disease. Exercise or medication is used to achieve a predetermined heart rate (which is based on your age). EKG and blood pressures are taken throughout the tests. Other parameters such as echo or nuclear imaging are used in some of the tests.
- Exercise Stress Test- is an evaluation of the heart while exercising on a treadmill or bicycle. EKG and blood pressure are monitored closely. Workloads are increased every few minutes until a sub maximal heart rate is achieved. A comparison of the EKGs is obtained to look for changes that would indicate ischemia (or the heart not getting enough blood or oxygen).
- Stress Echo- is similar to the exercise stress test with echo added. Before and after (stress) echo images are obtained and a comparison of how the heart is squeezing is determined. We are looking for any wall motion abnormality. Also EKG and blood pressures are obtained throughout the test. Again, the stress echo looks for any changes that would indicate ischemia. A medication given IV (that improves the echo images) may be used.
- Dobutamine Stress Echo- is similar to the stress echo but instead of exercise, a medication called dobutamine is given through an IV at increasing doses in order to obtain the sub maximal heart rate. This test is reserved for those who are not able to walk on a treadmill. Echo images are obtained before and after stress. EKG and blood pressure are taken throughout the tests. Comparisons are made of these parameters. The dobutamine stress echo looks for changes that would indicate ischemia.
- Nuclear Stress Test- A radioactive isotope (Sestamibi/Cardiolite) is given through an IV and a scan is obtained using a special camera. Next a treadmill stress test is performed. A second isotope is given at the time the sub maximal heart rate is achieved. A second scan is obtained after the stress test. The nuclear stress test looks for the likelihood of ischemia. The nuclear stress tests take approximately 4-5 hours to perform.
- Adenosine Nuclear Stress Test- is a nuclear stress test but instead of exercise, a medication called adenosine is given through the IV. This test is used for patients who are unable to walk on a treadmill. The adenosine nuclear stress test looks for the likelihood of ischemia. The adenosine nuclear stress tests take approximately 4-5 hours to perform.
- Dobutamine Nuclear Stress Test- is a nuclear stress test but instead of exercise, a medication called dobutamine is given through the IV. This test is used for patients who are unable to walk on a treadmill. The dobutamine nuclear stress test looks for the likelihood of ischemia. The dobutamine nuclear stress tests take approximately 4-5 hours to perform.
- Tilt Table Test- is performed to help in the diagnosis of syncope (passing out). Resting blood pressures and heart rates are taken at rest. Next, you are tilted to an almost standing position. Blood pressures and heart rates are obtained every minute while standing. We are looking for a drop in blood pressure and a drop in heart rate along with symptoms of passing out. An IV is usually started for this test.
Nuclear medicine tests are performed in the Baptist Heart Center.
Nuclear medicine tests are performed in the hospital's Diagnostic Imaging department, in conjunction with stress testing. Nuclear scans of the heart involve injection of a radioactive isotope followed by one or two 30-minute scans under a gamma camera. Cardiac scans can be used to:
- detect heart attacks, by showing if part of the heart muscle has been damaged;
- measure the heart's pumping action; and
- study the heart's ability to expand and contract.
Insertable Loop Recorder
The insertable loop recorder can help your doctor diagnose what is causing episodes or events such as unexpected fainting. Other types of monitors, which are worn externally, require a person to activate the monitor when they begin feeling symptoms of an episode coming on. The loop recorder is inserted under the skin in your chest. Once it is activated, it will continuously monitor your heart activity for about 14 months and capture all events. The implantable loop recorder is particularly useful in diagnosing heart problems in patients who don't have episodes frequently.
EECP (Enhanced External Counterpulsation)
EECP is a therapy for patients who continue to have chronic angina (heart pain) and will no longer benefit from bypass surgery or angioplasty (balloon surgery). EECP helps to promote collateral circulation or one’s own “natural bypass.” You will come everyday Monday through Friday for an hour long treatment session. Cuffs similar to blood pressure cuffs are wrapped around your thighs and calves. These cuffs rapidly inflate and deflate with every heart beat. The treatment course lasts approximately 7 weeks (35 sessions).
- Who is a candidate for EECP Therapy?
Patients who have chronic stable angina
Patients who do not get relief from angina by taking nitroglycerine
Patients who do not qualify for bypass surgery or balloon surgery
- What can I expect?
You will be connected to an EKG monitor. Cuffs are applied to the thighs, calves and buttocks. The cuffs are attached to the table by way of special hoses. The cuffs inflate and deflate rapidly with each heart beat. The EECP therapy squeezes the blood vessels in the legs which increase blood flow back to the heart. EECP may help in the development of collateral circulation or “natural bypasses”.
- Many patients see benefits.
Many patients report a decrease in symptoms of angina.
Many patients report a decrease in the use of nitroglycerine.
Many patients report that they are able to resume activities that they once thought impossible.
Other diagnostic tests are performed in Western Baptist Hospital's Cardiac Catheterization Labs.
Registering for Your Heart Test
Western Baptist Hospital's Express Check program makes registering for outpatient tests fast and easy. To take advantage of the program, follow these simple steps:
- As soon as your physician schedules you for tests, phone pre-registration at (270) 575-2979. Pre-registration clerks are available 24 hours a day seven days a week to take your phone call. Even if you are scheduled for a test or procedure the same day, it is still to your advantage to call ahead to begin the registration process.
- Be ready to provide the registration clerk with the following information:
- your medical record number, if you are familiar with it and you have registered at Western Baptist before;
- your date of birth;
- your social security number;
- your home address;
- the specific tests or procedures the physician has ordered; and
- your insurance card.
- If the clerk is able to complete your paperwork in this phone call, he or she will tell you that you are eligible for Express Check.
- When you prepare to come to the hospital, make sure you bring your physician orders and your insurance card with you.
- When you arrive at Western Baptist, proceed directly to the Express Check receptionist, who will copy your insurance card, have you sign a consent form and send you to the Cardiology or Diagnostic Imaging department.
You also may pre-register online by clicking here.
If you do not take advantage of the Express Check program, plan to arrive at the hospital 30 minutes before your scheduled exam time to complete the registration process.
For More Information
For more information about Diagnostic Cardiology Services, phone Baptist Health Line at (270) 575-2918.