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What Are the Different Heart Function Tests?

An MRI can help provide details abnormalitites or blockages that may be present.
Heart function tests are designed to help physicians diagnose heart problems.
Blood tests are often used to assess heart function.
One type of heart function test, the coronary angioplasty, involves inserting a catheter with a balloon on the end.
An electrocardigram is one type of heart function test.
Article Details
  • Written By: Nicole Long
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 15 November 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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Heart function tests help physicians diagnose and treat problems with the heart. Testing can include imaging and laboratory tests. These include blood tests, physical tests, electrocardiograms, ultrasounds and invasive testing.

Common blood tests are one of the different heart function tests. Enzymes produced by the heart, such as troponin, can be measured to confirm the occurrence of a heart attack. Blood tests can also determine the extent of damage and help with assessing the likelihood of another occurrence. In addition, physicians may use blood tests to help best choose treatment options.

Stress tests are also an option. These heart function tests are typically used to test cardiac function under the stress of exercise, such as walking and running on a treadmill. Stress tests can help rule out heart problems when diagnosing symptoms related to several possible diseases and conditions, such as shortness of breath and fatigue.

Electrocardiograms are used by physicians to track the electrical activity of the heart muscle. The test is non-invasive, and is completed by attaching monitors to the skin. Results obtained can tell physicians if there are any rhythm abnormalities present in the patient. Electrocardiograms are often conducted on patients in the hospital, and in most cases the results are then interpreted by the physician conducting the exam.

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Imaging tests provide detailed images of the heart muscle and the surrounding structures, such as the aorta. Examples of imaging tests include ultrasounds and nuclear imaging tests. Ultrasounds can provide clear images of the heart, and physicians can tell how efficient the heart is pumping. In nuclear imaging, radioactive material is used to provide feedback on the proficiency of the heart muscle and supporting structures. The thallium stress test is one example of a nuclear imaging test used in diagnosing heart related disease.

Other common heart function tests which utilize medical imaging include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT). These imaging tests provide details on any blockages that may exist in arteries and veins surrounding the heart. They also provide detailed images on size and any abnormalities that may be present, such as tissue damage.

Physicians may choose to perform an invasive procedure to further diagnose heart trouble and the severity of diseases affecting the heart and blood vessels leading to and from it. This typically requires injecting dye into the coronary artery with the use of a catheter. Common catheter tests include coronary angiography and coronary arteriography. Another type of test, the coronary angioplasty, involves inserting a catheter with a balloon on the end.

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Discuss this Article

discographer
Post 3

I hate cardiac stress tests. I can't handle it because of my high blood pressure. I've had the test twice, and the doctor stopped me midway both times because my heart rate went through the roof.

SarahGen
Post 2

@ankara-- EKG or ECG stand for electrocardiogram. It's a very routine test. It's usually the first cardiac function test that's done when someone is having chest pain, difficulty breathing or high blood pressure. They stick multiple electrodes to the chest to measure the activity of the heart. The entire procedure takes like three minutes.

A heart angiography (or angiogram) is a much more serious procedure. This is where a dye is injected into the arteries and then an x-ray is taken to see blood flow to and from the heart. The point of the test is to check for blockages in the arteries that may put someone at risk for a heart attack.

If doctors asked for an angiography after an EKG, it might mean that the results of the EKG were abnormal. You should call the hospital and speak to your dad's doctor for details. Don't jump to conclusions because the angiography results might come back normal. You should be able find out in a few hours.

bluedolphin
Post 1

What are EKG and angiography? Is an angiography the same as an angioplasty?

My mom just told me that they are at the hospital because my dad was having chest pains. They apparently did an EKG on him and are getting ready to do an angiography now.

What are these cardiac tests? Is it bad that the doctors want to do an angiography?

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