If you have a heart condition, you are probably already familiar with the world of cardiologists. These doctors specialize in finding and treating diseases of the heart. As you enter into the care of one of these highly trained doctors, take some time to get familiar with the tools of the trade, as your doctor will turn to many of these to help make you healthy again.
An echocardiograph is an image of the heart captured with the use of ultrasound waves. To capture these images, cardiologists inject their patients with dye or saline to better show the various chambers of the heart. Then, the doctor or sonographer will use an ultrasound transducer to capture images of the heart on a computer screen. Often, electrodes are also placed on the chest to allow the doctor to take an EKG at the same time.
Cardiologists use an EKG machine to measure the amount of electrical activity in the heart. This allows them to diagnose various types of heart disease, including heart failure, heart attacks and arrhythmia. You will not feel anything during an EKG, but you will have 12 electrodes placed on your body to record the information.
Stress Test Apparatus
During a stress test, cardiologists have their patients use a treadmill or stationary bike to get the heart pumping faster. Your doctor will instruct you to exercise as long as your body can, and you will stop if you feel dizzy, physically cannot continue, or have any chest pains. While you are exercising, an EKG machine and blood pressure cuff will take measurements to see what your heart is doing while under stress. Often the goal is to get your heart to do whatever it's doing that it's not supposed to be doing, but to do it under the watchful eye of your doctor.
A Holter Monitor is something you will wear as you go about your normal activities. It has many electrodes and a portable recording device, and you will take it home to wear as you go throughout your normal activities. If you have any arrhythmias or silent myocardial ischemia while you are wearing it, the recording device will record the information for your doctor. You are also supposed to record any fainting, dizziness, or palpitations you experience over the period of time you are wearing the Holter monitor. Cardiologists use this information to help make a diagnosis.
Cardiac Catheterization Equipment
Cardiologists use cardiac catheterization equipment to see inside the body to view blood vessels and arteries. It is done as an outpatient surgery using a catheter inserted into the groin, neck, or arm.