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Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death in both women and men in the United States. When found early and treated appropriately, we can significantly reduce your risk of serious complications. That’s why we offer a comprehensive array of diagnostic testing tools and heart-health evaluations:
Ankle Brachial Index
The ankle brachial index is a simple test that checks a person’s risk for peripheral artery disease (PAD). It measures blood pressure at the ankle and in the arm while you are at rest and while walking on a treadmill.
If your ankle brachial index shows that your risk for PAD is high or that you already have it, we can help you find a skilled heart specialist who can treat you and help lower your risk for heart disease. We can also direct you to resources located throughout Novant Health or in our community that can help you live a heart-healthier life through diet, exercise and stress management.
Angiography, or catheterization, enables our physicians to see how your heart and blood vessels work and check for blockages or problems with the heart valves. It is also used to treat a blockage by opening the blocked artery and allowing for a stent to be inserted for better blood flow.
At Novant Health, catheterization is done in our Cath Lab where state-of-the-art imaging technology helps us find your blockage and start treatment quickly. Your surgeon will thread the catheter from a small incision, usually in your wrist or groin, up to your heart. Once the catheter reaches the heart, the medical team will be able to see an image of your heart and if there are blockages or other problems.
For most patients, catheterization is painless.
Cardiac Scoring CT and Carotid IMT Ultrasound are quick and simple tests that evaluate your risk for heart disease.
Males above age 45 and females above age 55 would benefit from the information provided by a cardiac scoring exam. Males ages 30-45 and women ages 30-55 would benefit from the information provided by a carotid IMT exam. Younger individuals may also benefit if other heart disease risk factors are present. The high-tech scanning equipment makes the test quick, easy and completely noninvasive and the entire exam takes about 10 minutes. Call 704-384-SCAN (7226) to schedule an appointment. A physician referral required.
Cardiac scoring is a quick, painless and non-invasive procedure. Using a high-speed scanner to look for calcium deposits in the coronary artery—a sign of heart disease—physicians can determine your risk for heart disease before symptoms appear. You are then scored on your risk: from normal to extremely high. Results of the test are sent to your primary care physician. If you are at risk, your physician will suggest treatments such as medications or lifestyle changes.
Cardiac scoring costs $275, but may be reimbursed by your insurance.
The carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) is another test we use to check for cardiovascular disease by measuring the thickness of the walls of your carotid arteries. It is a painless test that often picks up signs of heart disease missed by other tests such as stress testing or an angiogram.
At Novant Health, carotid IMT is done through advanced ultrasound technology. Your primary care physician may use it to diagnose heart disease along with other tests such as blood work and screenings for high blood pressure and cholesterol.
Echocardiography (echo) uses sound waves to visualize how the heart is structured and whether it is working properly. Our physicians use a variety of echocardiography technologies, including three-dimensional modeling, to get a comprehensive picture of your heart’s valves and muscle.
Electrocardiogram, also known as ECG or EKG, is a painless test used to record the heart's electrical activity. It can indicate whether a person has a normal heartbeat or if a heart attack has happened and, if so, when.
During an ECG, electrodes are placed on the arms, legs and chest. The electrodes are connected to a machine that reads the electrical activity in the heart and draws a picture of it on paper. We use this drawing to find any heartbeat irregularities.
Electrophysiology (EP) studies are another painless way to identify the cause of an irregular heartbeat. During EP studies, small wires are guided into the heart and a series of electrical pulses are applied to the heart to speed up or slow down the heartbeat and help locate the reason for any irregularity.
Stress tests are used to determine how much stress your heart can handle before it develops abnormal rhythms or decreased blood flow. You may have stress testing periodically as part of a physical checkup or if you are already being treated for a heart condition. At Novant Health, we perform a number of different stress tests, depending on your physician’s direction and your medical condition, such as:
- Exercise stress test with ECG
- Exercise stress test with nuclear medicine
- Exercise stress test with echocardiography
- Pharmacologic stress testing
- Dobutamine stress echocardiography.
If you are having fainting spells, tilt testing can help find the cause and help your physician suggest the best treatment option. During a tilt test, you lie flat on a special exam table while hooked up to an ECG machine and blood pressure monitor. The table is tilted at different angles to cause your blood pressure and heart rate to change. This enables the physician to see if blood is pooling in your legs, when you stand, instead of reaching your heart.
Ultrasonography (ultrasound) uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of blood vessels, tissues and organs that are recorded and displayed on a computer screen. We use three types of ultrasounds for diagnostics:
- Vascular ultrasound: to examine the blood circulation in the arms and legs
- Carotid ultrasound: to examine the two large arteries in the neck, called carotid arteries, which deliver blood from the heart to the brain
- Abdominal ultrasound: to look for a weakened or bulging spot in your abdominal aorta, the artery that runs through the middle of your abdomen and supplies blood to the lower half of your body