HOW TO PREPARE FOR TESTING
WHAT IS BASIC CARDIOVASCULAR TESTING?
There are some basic cardiology diagnostic tests that your doctor may run depending upon your symptoms and concerns. These tests provide baseline information to determine the cause of any problems you may be experiencing.
Most people think that the word “cardiovascular” refers to the heart only. However, it is a term used to describe any route the blood travels as it circulates through the body. Therefore, you could be referred for basic cardiovascular testing if you have pain in your legs or elevated blood pressure.
Some tests may be ordered that seem unrelated to your concerns. Remember, we are checking to be sure that your heart is stable and that there aren’t any underlying severe causes for your symptoms.
WHAT IS AN EKG?
Electrocardiography is a technique used to record the electrical signals that control the rhythm of your heartbeat. An electrocardiogram is a test that uses this technology. This test is also called an EKG.
An EKG can detect things like current and past heart attacks, blockages, a thick heart wall, certain electrolyte imbalances, and even changes that have been brought on by some medications that you are taking or that you have taken in the past.
The EKG is painless. You will have to disrobe and several electrodes will be placed on your chest. These electrodes will have to stick to your skin, so it may be necessary to shave a few small areas of your chest. You will lie down if possible, for a few minutes while the test is recorded on graph paper.
WHAT IS A TREADMILL TEST?
The treadmill is an exercise test used to evaluate your heart function along with your pulse and blood pressure responses to activity. The physician may use the test to determine if current medications are working correctly, if you need further testing for blockages, or how your heart responds to increased activity.
You will have to remove your shirt for the test, and a gown will be provided. Since several electrodes will be placed on your chest, it may be necessary to shave a few small areas in order for the electrodes to stick. You will also have an electrode base strapped to your waist with a belt. These tools will help us to monitor your heart as you walk on the treadmill.
WHAT IS A HOLTER MONITOR?
The Holter monitor records electrical signals of the heart just like an EKG, but it does so over a 24-hour period. This test will monitor your heart rhythm during regular daily activities to see how your heart responds to activity, rest and/or medication changes.
This monitor is about the size of your hand and can be strapped to a belt loop or shoulder strap. The monitor has seven electrodes that will be placed on your chest. These electrodes will have to be secured to your skin with tape, so it may be necessary to shave a few small areas of your chest.
You will not be able to shower or bathe during the 24-hour period that the monitor is being worn. The monitor must be returned as soon as possible for the physician to evaluate the rhythms recorded on it. You will be given further instructions at the time of the placement of this monitor.
WHAT IS CHOLESTEROL? WHAT DOES HDL & LDL MEAN
The term HDL cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein) refers to the GOOD cholesterol that carries cholesterol to the liver for elimination and prevents the build up of cholesterol in the arteries. The term LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) refers to the BAD cholesterol. The body uses only a certain amount of LDL and the rest circulates in the bloodstream and builds up in the walls of the arteries. It is important for you to get not only a general cholesterol screening, but one that gives you a breakdown of your HDL and LDL levels.
WHY IT IS DANGEROUS?
A blood pressure reading between 120/80 and 139/89 indicates pre-hypertension, a condition that sometimes precedes hypertension. A higher reading indicates hypertension, a condition that causes damage to arterial walls and increases the chance for formation of blood clots. It is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, as well as cerebrovascular disease (diseases that affect the blood flow to the brain) and atherosclerosis (clogged arteries).
HOW HYPERTENSION IS DIAGNOSED
Hypertension often has no symptoms. However, you may experience mild headaches, nosebleeds, dizziness or spots before your eyes. Since hypertension can be a silent killer, it is important to have regular medical checkups.
A standard blood pressure check can alert your doctor to the possible presence of hypertension. A health care professional will record two numbers when checking your blood pressure. The first number recorded is your highest pressure (systolic). This is the pressure of the blood pushing against the wall of the blood vessel when the heart is beating. The second number recorded is the lowest pressure (diastolic). This is the pressure of the blood pushing against the wall of the blood vessel when the heart is at rest between beats.
SOME OF THE FACTORS THAT INCREASE YOUR RISK ARE:
LIFESTYLE. Smoking, a diet high in salt and fat, high alcohol consumption, stress, a lack of exercise
BACKGROUND. Age 60 or older, a family history of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, or African American descent
MEDICAL HISTORY. Being overweight, a cholesterol level of over 200, a history of diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, arterial disease of the legs, a previous stroke, or longer than a year since your last blood pressure check