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Cardiology tests

Cardiopulmonary stress test

A cardiopulmonary stress test examines how well the heart and lungs are working during activity. The test is done on a treadmill or, more commonly, a stationary bike. The patient is connected to a cardiac monitor, a blood pressure cuff and a small clip on one finger. Patients also wear a mouthpiece that measures lung functions while exercising. A cardiopulmonary stress test may help determine if shortness of breath is caused by heart or lung issues, or it may be used to help develop an exercise program.

Cardiac exercise stress test

Sometimes heart trouble is easier to detect during physical activity than when a person is at rest. A cardiac stress test studies heart function during exercise on a treadmill. This test is used to find abnormalities in heartbeat rhythms or blood flow. Sticky electrodes are connected to the chest, shoulders and hips to measure heart activity, which is displayed on an electrocardiogram or ECG machine. The treadmill begins slowly and gradually increases speed until the patient reaches his or her target heart rate or develops significant discomfort.

Cardiac event monitor

Random or irregular heart trouble may not appear on command in the doctor's office. Yet doctors can study the trouble when it happens by prescribing a cardiac event monitor. This is a small device the size of a pager, connected to electrodes, which a patient wears up to 30 days. When he or she experiences random heart palpitations, dizziness, chest pain or shortness of breath, the patient simply presses a button to record heart rhythms. Then using a phone, the patient can send the report to a group of cardiac credentialed technicians. This information will be gathered for as long as the patient wears the monitor. When complete, a cardiologist will interpret the study. This ensures the best quality test possible.

Holter monitor

A holter monitor is a device worn for 24, 48 or 72 hours, to record heart rhythms. Electrodes connect from the monitor to the patient's chest. The monitor fits in a pocket or a small pouch worn around the waist or shoulder harness. As the monitor records heart data, the patient also takes notes of symptoms and activity. When complete, the patient returns the monitor to Cardiopulmonary Services, where a cardiologist will interpret the study.

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

An electrocardiogram (ECG) is a painless test that measures the electrical activity of the heart. It can record, display and print visual illustrations of heart rate and heartbeats. An ECG may be done while a person is resting or exercising (called a stress test). Electrodes are connected to the chest; these allow the heart's rhythms to be transmitted to the ECG machine. An ECG is helpful in diagnosing chronic or acute illness in the heart.


Echocardiogram is a test that uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the heart. The picture is much more detailed than x-ray image and involves no radiation exposure. 

External counterpulsation

External counterpulsation is a procedure used to increase blood flow to the heart, which relieves the heart's workload. Pressure cuffs are placed on the legs and buttocks/lower abdomen. They compress the blood vessels and help blood flow back to the heart. People suffering from angina or congestive heart failure (chest pain caused by lack of blood and oxygen to the heart) can find relief with a series of external counterpulsation sessions.


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