Ischemic Heart Disease

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Ischemic heart disease and other abnormal cardiac conditions can be determined with a series of tests. If a person experiences symptoms like chest pain and chest discomfort or low exercise tolerance, he must see his currant physician and seek further guidance about taking a test that could determine if he suffers from a pathological cardiac condition. Taking the test can be crucial to prevent sudden death and myocardial infraction. The most common tests for diagnosing ischemic heart disease are electrocardiogram, the stress test, nuclear scan, coronary angiography, ventriculogram, and intracoronary ultrasound.

Electrocardiogram, also known as ECG or EKG consists in the graphic record of heart’s electrical activity in normal conditions of functioning and monitoring its contractions and relaxations.  The ECG test can detect damaged areas, abnormal blood flow and heartbeats, or heart enlargement.

Other test used in diagnosing ischemic heart disease is the so-called stress test. This test is used in patients who experience low effort tolerance and angina attacks triggered by physical effort that subjects the heart muscle to extra effort. There are many types of stress tests; first of them is known as the treadmill test, during this test the patient is pedaling a stationary bicycle or walks on a treadmill hooked to special equipment that measures his heart’s functional parameters. Other type of stress test, used especially in patients with arthritis, who aren’t ably to perform physical exercise, uses a drug that has similar effect with physical exercise. During bought tests heart’s functional parameters, breathing and oxygen consumption are strictly monitored; blood pressure and heartbeat rate are recorded periodically. An EKG blood pressure and EKG rate are taken before the treadmill test, during the exercise and after the test.

Stress tests aren’t always accurate, there have been cases of false diagnosis when the test has indicated a problem where there wasn’t any- false positives, and when the test failed to discover a pathological condition. It has been proven that variables like race and gender can affect test’s precision.

Another type of test used in diagnosing ischemic heart disease is the thallium stress test or nuclear scan that functions by assessing heart muscle’s contractions heart’s blood flow. This test is used to show damaged heart areas that don’t receive enough blood and problems connected to heart’s pumping function. During this procedure the doctor injects in patient’s arm a small quantity of a radioactive substance called thallium, then a scanning camera records how the nuclear material is absorbed by the healthy areas of the myocardium the damaged areas appear on the scan in shade. Depending on the usefulness of its results the test can be taken during exercise or rest and it also helps the doctor to evaluate the blood pumping function of the heart.

Other ischemic heart disease test is the coronary angiography also known as arteriography used in order to discover arterial blockages narrowed areas within the coronary arteries. The procedure consists in inserting a catheter through a main body artery weather of the arm or leg, and then a special type of dye visible on X ray is released into the patient’s blood. The camera films the pumping heart and the blood vessels the resulting picture is called angiogram or arteriogram.

The ventriculogram uses a procedure similar the angiogram’s, the only difference being that the fine tube called the catheter is placed into the left ventricle. A ventriculogram is the picture of the left ventricle – heart’s major pumping chamber.

In order to measure the blood flow an intracoronary ultrasound test is most commonly used. This procedure also uses a catheter that can measure blood tension and it can offer a picture of the coronary arteries, its thickness and the level of damage at the artery wall as well as possible blockages.

After being diagnosed with coronary heart disease dramatic changes in patient’s lifestyle should follow, for example strict regular physical exercises, smoking cessation, low-fats diet moreover medical treatment.

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