Cardiac Diagnostics

Bay Area Heart Center offers advanced cardiology diagnostic methods in St. Petersburg and Largo, Florida. Our cardiovascular specialists are highly trained in identifying conditions affecting the heart and vascular system through diagnostic testing.

We establish personal relationships with our patients, evaluate your health history along with testing results, and then work together to determine the best treatment plan that fits into your busy lifestyle.

We offer the following diagnostic methods to pinpoint the source of your symptoms:

Exercise (Treadmill) and Pharmacologic Stress Testing

A treadmill stress test evaluates how the heart works during exercise. It is also referred to as an exercise ECG. A treadmill stress test may reveal heart problems not apparent when you are at rest, since the heart pumps faster during physical activity. If you cannot exercise, special medications (pharmacologic agents) can be used instead of the treadmill.

Echocardiogram, including Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)

An echocardiogram is an ultrasound of the heart that evaluates heart function, including the muscles and valves. If a traditional echocardiogram does not provide enough information, your cardiologist may perform a transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE).

During the procedure your doctor will lower a device called an echotransducer down your esophagus to view the valves and chambers of your heart. Your throat will be numbed with a topical spray and you will be heavily sedated to avoid discomfort during the test.

Electrocardiogram (EKG)

Electrocardiograms (EKG) graphically record the electrical activity of the heart and can reveal evidence of heart attacks or insufficient blood supply to the heart.

Holter Monitor and Event Monitoring

Holter and event monitors are small, portable devices that can record your heart activity for a longer time than an EKG. You can wear one while you go about your normal daily activities.

Some people have heart rhythm problems that occur only during certain activities, such as sleeping or physical exertion. Using a Holter or event monitor increases the chance of recording these problems.

Although similar, Holter and event monitors aren't the same. A Holter monitor records your heart's electrical activity the entire time you're wearing it. An event monitor records your heart's electrical activity only at certain times while you're wearing it.

Ankle Brachial Index (ABI)

ABI is a diagnostic study performed by taking blood pressure measurements at the ankle and the arm while a person is at rest.

Device-Optimization Echo

A device-optimization echo is an echocardiogram done in conjunction with a device check to increase the effectiveness of the device's settings.

External Counterpulsation (ECP)

ECP is a non-surgical mechanical procedure that can reduce the symptoms and frequency of angina attacks. Treatments increase the blood flow to the heart, and the benefits can last long after completion of the course of therapy.

There are a total of 35 consecutive treatments in a therapy course. These treatments are beneficial for patients who have already had bypass surgery, angioplasty, or stents, as well as those who have not.

Cardiac CTA Interpretation

A coronary computed tomography angiogram (CTA) uses advanced CT technology, along with intravenous (IV) contrast material (dye), to obtain high-resolution, three-dimensional pictures of the moving heart and great vessels.

Nuclear Stress Test

A nuclear stress test will help your physician see if you have coronary artery disease (CAD), which is caused by inadequate blood supply to the heart, usually caused by blocked arteries.

Myocardial perfusion imaging stress testing (myocardial refers to the heart muscle [myocardium] while perfusion refers to the passage of blood through the circulatory system) uses a very small amount of radioactive tracer, which circulates in the bloodstream and is taken up by the cells of the heart muscle. This will show if the heart muscle is receiving an adequate blood supply under stress and rest conditions. A special camera shows areas of healthy and unhealthy heart muscle.

The radioactive tracer leaves the body within a few hours. The radioactive tracer is not a dye and there are no side effects. This test and the tracer are used routinely world-wide for cardiac imaging.

How is the test performed?

An IV (intravenous) line will be started in a vein to allow for ease of injection. The first dose of tracer will be injected. After a short wait for the tracer to circulate, pictures are taken of your heart at rest. This takes approximately 15 minutes.

After the first pictures are completed, you will be taken to a room where you will be attached to ECG and blood pressure monitors. This will allow monitoring of your heart rhythm and blood pressure during the stress test. You will then walk on a treadmill, very similar to the kind used at a health club. If you cannot exercise, special medications can be used instead of the treadmill.

The treadmill will start slowly and will increase speed and incline every 3 minutes and as you exercise, your heart rate and blood pressure will change; this is normal. When your heart rate reaches the required goal, a second dose of tracer will be injected and will circulate as you walk for one more minute. The treadmill will stop and you will be monitored as your heart rate and blood pressure return to normal.

After the stress test a second set of pictures will be taken and compared to the first to look for any changes in circulation. We encourage you to eat a light snack and have something to drink. This will improve the quality of the last set of pictures. The doctors then review these pictures to decide if further treatment is needed.

Coumadin Clinic

We offer a Coumadin Clinic for patients receiving anticoagulation therapy. The goal of the clinic is to educate patients about the use of oral anticoagulation therapy while monitoring the effects of Coumadin/warfarin on each patient.

Cardioversion

Cardioversion can correct a heartbeat that's too fast (tachycardia) or irregular (fibrillation). Cardioversion is usually used to treat people who have atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter. These are conditions in which the electrical signals that cause your heart to beat in a regular rate and rhythm don't properly travel through the upper chambers of your heart.

For superior cardiology care in the bay area, call Bay Area Heart Center today at (727) 544-1441 or request an appointment online.