Cardiovascular Diagnosis and Imaging
Advanced cardiac diagnostic services
The first step toward a healthy heart is to determine the type and extent of cardiovascular disease. Lancaster Regional Medical Center provides technologically advanced heart care, offering state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment and expertise. Our Specialty physicians practicing at Lancaster Regional Medical Center use a wide range of sophisticated cardiac procedures to diagnose heart disease:
- Electrophysiology studies, electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) and transesophogeal echocardiogram (TEE) measure the heart's electrical activity and identify muscle damage that can cause heart disease. Portable devices such as a Holter monitor or event recorder measure a patient’s heart activity throughout the day, over an extended period of time.
- Nuclear medicine scans such as positron emission tomography (PET), PET/CT scans, or thallium or myocardial perfusion scans utilize a small dose of radioactive material to reveal the structure and blood flow within the heart.
- Non-invasive imaging technologies including magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), computed tomography angiography (CTA), x-ray and echocardiograms provide images of the heart muscle, valves, veins and arteries.
- Cardiac catheterization, or coronary angiogram, is an interventional cardiology procedure that provides real-time x-ray images (fluoroscopy) to show the heart’s pumping ability, the health of the valves and arteries, as well as measure blood pressure. This technique is also used to collect biopsies and blood samples.
- A blood test is one method used to determine if a heart attack has occurred by checking the levels of cardiac enzymes and proteins. When a heart attack has occurred, the blood test can provide information about the degree and extent of damage. Your physician may use blood test results to determine the degree of coronary artery disease (CAD), which refers to blocked arteries and impeded blood flow.
- Stress tests visually monitor blood flow through your heart when the muscle is working and at rest. A non-invasive type is an exercise stress test, often called a treadmill test, where conductive pads are placed on your chest and connected to a monitor that records your vital signs (heart rate, blood pressure), and how easily you tire when exercising as you walk on a treadmill. This test gives your physician information to diagnose coronary artery disease and the reason for angina (chest pain). This stress test type provides valuable information for planning a heart-healthy exercise program.
- Nuclear stress test provides more detail than the non-invasive treadmill test. Thallium, or another radioactive substance, is injected into the veins. As the thallium disperses through the bloodstream, physicians and cardiovascular technicians can measure blood flow during exercise and when you are resting. This test can show where and to what degree your coronary arteries are blocked, can help determine the extent of muscle damage from a heart attack, and can help your doctor pinpoint the cause of chest pain. Often, a doctor will order a thallium stress test to plan a safe level of exercise after a patient has had a heart attack or has been diagnosed with coronary artery disease.