An echocardiogram “Echo” is an ultrasound of the heart that uses sound waves to produce images of your heart. This test allows your doctor to determine the size, pumping function, valve anatomy and function, and blood flow inside of your heart. Your doctor can use the images from an echocardiogram to identify various abnormalities in the heart muscle and valves. There is no preparation for the Echocardiogram. The test is performed by a sonographer and takes approximately 30 minutes. The study is safe and there are no known risks from the clinical use of ultrasound.
A fetal echocardiogram “Echo” is an ultrasound test performed on a pregnant woman to evaluate the heart of her unborn baby. The test allows doctors to detect heart defects and plan for medical or surgical intervention once the baby is born which improves the chance of survival after delivery for babies with serious heart defects. The study is painless and usually takes about 30 – 45 minutes to perform.
Electrocardiogram (EKG/ECG) is a recording of the electrical activity of the heart. This is done by placing leads (little stickers) on the chest over the heart and recording the heartbeats. A tracing is recorded and printed out on paper. This can give us useful information about the rhythm of the heart. An EKG usually takes five minutes to perform.
A Holter Monitor is a recording device that allows us to record every heartbeat for up to 48 hours continuously. Our recorders are specially designed for children. The recording is made on an electronic chip. Two to three leads are usually placed on the patient’s chest and these leads are connected to a small box. The patient performs their normal activities including exercise while the test is being done. It is recommended that the patient documents all activities while wearing this monitor. It is useful when the patient complains of irregular heartbeats or fast heartbeats during the day.
Remote Heart Monitoring
A Trans-Telephonic Event Monitor (Loop Recorder) is a recording device that allows us to catch sporadic episodes of fast heartbeat (tachycardia) or slow heartbeats (bradycardia) for over 30 days. The monitor is about the size of a cell phone. The device records the cardiac rhythm (electrical activity of the heart) when the appropriate button is pushed. Patients are encouraged to push the button as soon as they develop symptoms such as palpitations (heart racing), dizziness, or chest pain. The monitor is equipped with a computer that stores the heart rate and rhythm and transmits the recording over the phone to your doctor to review.
Pacemaker/Defibrillator (ICD) Follow-Up and Programming: A permanent pacemaker is a small battery-powered device that is implanted under the skin, often in the shoulder area, just under the collarbone or abdomen and the wires are connected to the outside surface of the heart or inside the heart. It delivers electrical signals to start or regulate a slow heartbeat (bradycardia) usually as a result of the malfunction of the natural pacemaker of the heart (the sinoatrial or SA node) such as sick sinus syndrome or heart block.
An Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) is a small battery-powered device, slightly larger than a pacemaker. An ICD senses the rate of the heartbeat. When a life-threatening abnormal rhythm (e.g. ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation) is detected, small electrical shocks are delivered to the heart to slow the heart rate and return it to normal heart rhythm.
Exercise (Stress) Testing
Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing allows your doctor to check the general physical fitness both in young athletes and in patients with heart disease. It is painless and usually takes about 20 to 30 minutes to perform. During the test, the patient runs on a treadmill while attached to a heart monitor. Blood pressures, heart rate & electrocardiograms (EKGs) are obtained during the entire test. Lung function tests may sometimes be added to evaluate for exercise-induced bronchoconstriction/asthma. The main function of the heart is to pump blood to the whole body. During exercise, the body requires more oxygen and the heart must pump harder. As the heart pumps harder, its muscles also require more oxygen and more blood supply. An exercise stress test can show if the blood supply to the heart is adequate or not during exercise. This test can give your doctor valuable information about medical conditions such as coronary artery disease, chest pain, syncope (fainting), arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats), exercise tolerance, and complex congenital heart diseases.