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  Diagnostic Testing

The most important thing about heart problems, as with any disease or condition, is the sooner you detect and diagnose them, the easier they may be to manage and treat.

Dr. Alenick performs many diagnostic test to determine your condition. The procedures described below are the most often used in our practice. They are completely painless and provide an enormous amount of information about the heart.

  How is Heart Disease Diagnosed

The echocardiogram gives information about the physical structure and condition of the heart by using sound waves to create a moving picture of the heart. For this painless procedure, which takes place in in Dr. Alenick’s office, a microphone-shaped instrument called a transducer is placed on your chest. The transducer sends sound waves into the chest, where they bounce off the different parts of the heart muscle. These resulting sound wave echoes are then transmitted into an ultrasound machine and converted into a moving image that you see on a screen.

Among other findings, the echocardiogram allows Dr. Alenick to determine the size of the heart chambers, the thickness and strength of the heart muscle, the quantity of blood pumped, whether fluid is present in the sac surrounding the heart, whether the heart valves are leaking, or if congenital heart disease is present.

  • There are several types of echocardiograms.
    Click here to find out more about them.
  • What can you expect during an echocardiogram?
    Click here to find out.
  • Frequently Asked Questions about echocardiograms.
    Click here for Q & A.

Holter Monitoring
Continuous ambulatory electrocardiography is done with Holter monitoring, a 24-hour long test that measures the heart's rate and rhythm while the patient goes about his or her usual daily activities. The test is typically used when a condition such as an arrythmia (an irregular, slow, or fast heartbeat) is suspected.

A small monitor (a bit larger than a Walkman) is worn throughout the day either strapped around the waist or hung on a shoulder strap. The information is recorded on an audiocassette tape or a computer chip located inside the monitor.

The test is often used to assess recurring symptoms such as dizziness, palpitations or fainting spells, to detect suspected arrythmias that may not occur during the brief period of a standard electrocardiogram (EKG) or to evaluate how well a medication is working.

The test provides Dr. Alenick with important information about your specific condition. Along with other tests, Holter monitoring helps in making the most accurate diagnosis and determining the best possible treatment plan for you. It is completely safe and painless.

    What can the patient expect?
    Click here to find out.

    Frequently Asked Questions about Holter Monitor Testing

    Click here to find out.

Resting Electrocardiogram
Also known as an EKG, ECG, and cardiogram, the resting electrocardiogram measures and records the electrical impulses that stimulate your heart to contract. These electrical impulses usually travel in an orderly fashion through the various parts of the heart. Without these impulses the heart wouldn't contract or “beat”. Because the electrical activity of all human hearts follows certain predictable, normal patterns, it is easy to detect a pattern that looks different.

During this procedure, electrodes or “leads” are attached to your arms, legs, and chest. These leads detect th electrical impulses as they move through the heart. The leads may feel wet due to the “gel” beneath each lead. The leads are connected to a machine that converts the electrical impulses into sharp, "zig-zag" lines on a strip of paper.

By looking at the EKG patterns, Dr. Alenick can see abnormalities in the rate and regularity of the heartbeat. The size and shape of these patterns can tell him much about the heart's size and rhythm.

A resting EKG also gives a good baseline with which to compare future EKG's. But it doesn't provide much information about how the heart behaves with stress or exertion.

Stress Electrocardiogram or Stress Test
The stress electrocardiogram records the heart's electrical activity while physical stress is placed on it. Stress tests are recommended if there is a history of symptoms with exercise, as well as for other indications.

A stress test may be given in the doctor's office, but a special exercise laboratory is needed. Electrodes or “leads” are hooked up on your arms, legs, and chest, and a blood pressure cuff is placed on one arm. Instead of lying on a table, you step onto a treadmill and begin to walk. As you walk, the speed increases and the incline becomes more steep, so that the heart must work harder and harder. The electrical activity of your heart is observed on a screen, and recorded, along with your blood pressure. The stress test can be used to advise a patient with heart disease how much physical activity can be tolerated with safety.