A Guide to Heart Screenings

Woman forming heart with handsTo evaluate your heart, your doctor may order one or more of these tests.

Electrocardiogram (EKG/ECG)
Electrodes (small, plastic patches) are placed at certain locations on your chest, arms and legs and are connected to a machine by lead wires.

What it shows
Possible irregularities in the electrical activity of your heart.

Echocardiogram (echo)
A hand-held device placed on your chest uses high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to produce images of your heart's size, structure and motion.

What it shows
Possible abnormalities in heart valves and vessels, or if there are tumors or clots.

Holter monitoring

You’ll be asked to wear a battery-operated EKG for 24 to 48 hours.

What it shows
Possible irregularities in your heart’s electrical rhythms that are only detected with a longer period of monitoring.

Cardiac computed tomography
This fast version of a CT (computerized tomography) scan produces multiple images of your beating heart from many different angles. In some cases, contrast dye (iodine) is injected before the test.

What it shows
Possible problems in your heart’s structure and in how your heart pumps blood. If contrast dye is used, the test can also detect blockage in your arteries.

Exercise stress test
You exercise on a treadmill while having an electrocardiogram. You start slowly and gradually increase your speed and intensity.

What it shows
How well your heart functions while it’s working

Thallium stress test
While undergoing an exercise stress test, a radioactive substance (thallium) is injected into your veins through an IV, and a special camera takes images of your heart.

What it shows
Blood flow into your heart at rest and during stress. It can also determine the extent of any coronary artery blockages.

Please talk with your doctor to find out if you need a heart screening test.

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