Your heart is our specialty
At Portneuf Medical Group – Cardiology, caring for your cardiac and vascular needs is the cornerstone of our practice. Our board certified cardiologists provide specialized care for the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of patients with heart and blood vessel disease and conditions.
Due to advancing imaging techniques and technology, diagnosing ailments of the heart and circulatory system is more precise and accurate than ever. We now have the ability to see and study the heart in amazing detail and we offer treatment options that are on the forefront of such technological advancements.
A cardiac electrophysiologist, or a heart rhythm specialist, is a cardiologist with additional training in the diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm disorders. Arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythms) is common; approximately 5 million Americans are living with atrial fibrillation (one of the more common arrhythmias) and this could rise to 12 million diagnosed with this condition by the year 2030.
Treatment often includes medication and lifestyle changes and catheter ablation if needed or if permanent elimination of the rhythm is desired.
A measurement of the heart’s electrical activity printed on graph paper. Electrode patches are placed on the patient’s bare chest and lead wires are hooked to the patches. It is often done as an adjunct to the patient’s office visit but occasionally a patient may come in strictly for an EKG.
24 HOUR HOLTER MONITOR
Holter monitor is a portable electrocardiogram (EKG) that monitors the electrical activity of an ambulatory (freely moving) patient’s heart.
King of Hearts Monitor or CardioCall Monitor
Event monitors are another form of portable EKG recording device used to monitor the patient with intermittent or episodic symptoms over a period longer than 24 hours (often 2 weeks to 30 days). The patient pushes an event button to record tracings when he/she experiences intermittent symptoms.
An ultrasound imaging procedure where a technician uses a sonographic probe to visualize the patient’s heart at rest. Measurements are taken and compared to normal dimensions for resting heart function. Ultrasound uses sound waves to achieve the images used by the cardiologist to evaluate the heart.
A blood test to measure the effectiveness of the blood thinning medication Coumadin (warfarin). A finger stick specimen and a point-of-care monitor are used in the office to perform these tests. Based on the test results (which are received in less than three minutes), the patient’s blood-thinning medication may be increased or decreased to ensure it is in a therapeutic range.
PLAIN OR STANDARD TREADMILL STRESS TEST
A test that measures the heart’s response to exercise via EKG while a patient walks on a treadmill. It is often combined with ultrasound or echocardiographic imaging for a stress echo (see more detailed description below) by cardiologists to evaluate performance of the heart more effectively than with EKG alone.
This test also measures the heart’s response to exercise via EKG while a patient walks on a treadmill. Combined with echocardiographic imaging, a stress echo provides the interpreting cardiologist with visual imaging of the heart’s performance, and for patients with intermediate risk of coronary artery disease, the diagnostic value is better than using EKG alone. Two dimensional echocardiographic images are recorded before, during and/or after stress testing using either exercise (treadmill or bicycle) or pharmacologic (such as Dobutamine or other vasoactive agents) techniques to evaluate for segmental wall motion abnormalities and to assess overall cardiac performance.
NUCLEAR STRESS TESTING
Also called: Nuclear Stress Test or Cardiolite Stress Test
This test is performed at the hospital. Like the in-office stress test, the patient walks on a treadmill to produce cardiac exercise stress. The patient is monitored with EKG. The heart is visualized by a special X-ray like camera that detects a nuclear agent that is injected into the patient via an IV.
HEART CATHETERIZATION, CARDIAC ANGIOGRAM
A thin catheter is inserted into the patient’s groin artery (at the top of the leg) and threaded into the heart. This allows close up visualization of the heart’s muscle, valves and importantly the coronary arteries. It is used to determine what (if any) corrective procedures a patient might require.
TRANSESOPHOGEAL ECHOCARDIOGRAM (TEE)
A long probe with an ultrasound device attached to the end is inserted down a patient’s throat to get a close echocardiographic view of the heart valves and muscles. This diagnostic procedure is performed in the hospital on an outpatient basis.
The patient is shocked with a special electrical delivering device to correct an irregular heart rhythm (atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter). The patient is sedated and large electrical patches are applied to the chest. Cardioversions are performed by cardiologists on an outpatient basis in the hospital.
TILT TABLE STUDY
A tilt table test is used to evaluate the cause of unexplained fainting (syncope). Your doctor might recommend a tilt table test if you have repeated, unexplained episodes of lightheadedness, dizziness or fainting. The test can help determine if the cause is related to your heart rate or blood pressure. Your doctor might recommend a tilt table test to try to trigger your signs and symptom – lighteheadedness, dizziness or fainting – while your heart rate and blood pressure are being monitored. If you have symptoms while you’re in the upright position on the tilt table, the part of your nervous system that controls blood pressure and heart rate suddenly causes them to lower for a short time. In turn, less blood flows to your brain, possibly causing you to faint.
A tilt table test is generally safe, and complications are rare. But, as with any medical procedure, it does carry some risk. Potential complications include:
- Nausea and vomiting after fainting
- Weakness that can last several hours
- Prolonged low blood pressure (hypotension) after the test
These complications usually reside when the table is returned to a horizontal position.
REVEAL (MEDTRONIC, INC.) DEVICE
When Holter and event monitor devices fail to capture syncopal episodes, a special small EKG recorder is inserted below the skin in the middle of the chest. These devices have more recording time than standard devices and the battery lasts for ~18 months.