Noninvasive cardiac imaging refers to a combination of methods that can be used to obtain images related to the structure and function of the heart. As opposed to invasive techniques, which require catheters to be inserted into the heart, noninvasive tests are easier to perform, are safe, and can be used to detect various heart conditions, ranging from plaque in the arteries that supply the heart muscle (known as coronary artery disease) to abnormalities that impair the ability of the heart to pump blood.
As a result of technological advances, the number of available noninvasive cardiac tests that physicians can order has increased substantially over the last decade. Although these tests have improved physicians’ abilities to diagnose and treat heart disease, it is important to understand that not all individuals benefit from noninvasive cardiac imaging. Therefore, these tests should be ordered only at the advice of a physician and should be considered only if the information provided would influence subsequent treatment with medications, procedures, or lifestyle interventions.
When Is Noninvasive Cardiac Imaging Used?
The goal of cardiac testing may include any of the following: (1) to identify or exclude various forms of heart disease as a reason for a person’s symptoms, (2) to establish the risk of developing future heart disease such as a heart attack, and (3) to decide on the need for additional medical therapies and procedures. For instance, in patients with coronary artery disease, the results of imaging tests could be used for selecting between procedures such as placing stents in the arteries of the heart or performing bypass surgery versus pursuing aggressive treatment with medications.
Methods of Non Invasive Cardiac Imaging
- Echocardiogram (during rest conditions) An ultrasound of the heart is performed by trained technicians and allows doctors to evaluate the pumping function of the heart and the function of the heart valves. Doctors can learn information about the size of the chambers, the thickness of the heart muscle, and whether there is fluid around the lining of the heart.
- Exercise treadmill testing (without imaging) An exercise treadmill testing is performed by an exercise physiologist and provides doctors with information regarding the heart rate, blood pressure, symptoms, and electrocardiogram changes ( electric activity of the heart) that occur during or after exercise. This information may be used to identify the likelihood of plaques that limit the blood flow to the heart muscle during exercise
- CT Coronary artery calcium scoring scan A calcium scan is a computed tomography of the heart that detects whether there are plaques that contain calcium involving the arteries of the heart. This test does not use any intravenous contrast. In Some people without known coronary artery disease, the presence/amount of plaque can be used to determine future risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attacks.
- MRI Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging A cardiac magnetic resonance imaging test can be used to evaluate for many forms of heart disease, including heart muscle dysfunction, cardiac masses, and many other rare cardiac disorders. During a cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, a stress test (using medications) can be performed by imaging the blood flow to the heart under rest and stress conditions.
Do I Need a Cardiac Imaging Test?
Although some cardiac imaging tests can be used to evaluate the risk of individuals who do not have any symptoms, the majority of tests are performed to evaluate the cause of symptoms that may be attributable to cardiovascular disease. It is important to know that although some individuals with narrowing in the coronary arteries may experience chest discomfort or shortness of breath—most often during physical activity—such symptoms can be caused by other reasons that are not related to heart disease.
If you would like more information on Cardiac Imaging Investigation or a consultation with a cardiologist then please contact Phyathai Sriracha Hospital Hospital on 087 – 1000 – 990 Email: [email protected] www.phyathai-sriracha.com