Heart diagnostic services in east San Jose
At Regional Medical Center of San Jose, we are committed to providing comprehensive, accurate diagnostic tests to determine any heart problems our patients experience. Our cardiologists use advanced imaging technology to visualize the heart's structure and evaluate how well it is working.
To learn more about specialized heart screening and imaging procedures, please call our Consult-A-Nurse® team at (888) 762-8881.
Diagnostic heart tests we offer
Our non-invasive, diagnostic tests are used to gather information about a patient's heart. This is critical in diagnosing heart disease and understanding how effective a treatment is.
Our cardiac services include a variety of heart screening and imaging procedures, including echocardiograms, electrocardiograms, electrophysiology studies, nuclear imaging and tilt table testing.
An echocardiogram (echo) is a specialized type of ultrasound that produces an image of the heart while in motion. This test allows our cardiologists to:
- Assess the overall size of the heart and how big the chambers are in relation to one another
- Evaluate how well the heart is working
- Identify the thickness of the heart muscle
- Measure the speed and direction of blood flow through the heart's chambers
- Visualize the heart's chambers and valves
We also perform 3D echocardiography. This allows us to capture a more detailed view of the heart than a standard echo.
During a contrast echo, a patient receives an injection of a contrast agent. The contrast agent is a liquid that enhances the images produced on the ultrasound. This improves image quality and decreases image obstruction caused by the chest wall and muscles.
The contrast echo is used when a standard echo does not provide enough information about the heart's left ventricle. Contrast agents also help physicians identify any abnormal connections or blood flow between the heart's chambers.
Stress test with echocardiogram
This type of echocardiogram uses imaging before and after stress is induced on the heart. The echocardiogram will identify any changes that occur in the heart's efficiency between its baseline, while at rest, and an elevated heart rate during exercise. The stress portion of the test may occur through physical exercise, on a stationary bike or treadmill. A medical injection can also stimulate the effects of exercise on the heart.
After the baseline test, we slowly increase the patient's level of physical activity to assess changes that may occur in the heart. A stress echo also helps cardiologists evaluate the blood supply to the heart from the coronary arteries.
Often a patient will also receive an electrocardiogram (EKG) in addition to an echocardiogram during a stress test.
The transesophageal echo combines ultrasound technology and a transducer (a device used to create images) to visualize the heart. The transducer is inserted into the esophagus, which allows it to be positioned directly behind the heart. The proximity to the heart allows our doctors to get close enough to obtain a high-quality image.
During a transesophageal echo, a numbing spray is used on the throat, and the patient is given a sedative to aid in relaxation.
We also use ultrasound technology to assess the function of the arteries that supply blood to the heart. Our ultrasound technicians move the ultrasound transducer along the artery to assess how well blood is moving through the vessels. Vascular ultrasounds are commonly performed on the carotid artery and aorta.
An electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) evaluates the origin and transmission of electrical impulses that maintain a normal heartbeat. During an EKG, electrodes are placed on the chest to pick up and record the heart's electrical activity.
Stress test with electrocardiogram
During this test, EKG electrodes are placed on the chest and used to record electrical activity throughout increased periods of physical activity. Patients who are unable to tolerate exercise will be given a medication that simulates the effects of exercise on the heart.
Prior to exercise, a resting EKG is performed to determine a baseline. Blood pressure is also measured throughout the duration of the test. Our doctors determine the highest level of physical activity or stress put on the heart.
A Holter monitor tracks the heart's electrical activity for an extended period of time, typically 24 hours. This type of monitoring is useful when symptoms occur sporadically and cannot be seen during a normal EKG. It is often used to diagnose irregular heart rhythms.
The Holter monitor can be easily attached to a belt or shoulder strap and is worn during normal daily activities.
The electrical signals in the heart allow the muscles to expand and contract. This allows blood to pump throughout the body. When problems occur with the heart's electrical activity, it can pose a serious threat to a patient's heart health.
We perform electrophysiology (EP) studies to record and create electrical activity in the heart. The test uses electrode wires passed through a blood vessel and into the heart. An EP study identifies any problems that may occur with the flow of electricity in the heart.
Cardiac nuclear imaging
Nuclear imaging produces an image of blood flow to the heart. Proper blood flow is vital, as the heart is responsible for pumping blood to the body and itself through the coronary arteries.
Nuclear imaging scans use a tracer (a small amount of radioactive material given via injection). A special camera can then trace the substance as it travels through the blood vessels to the heart and coronary arteries. The scan reveals where blood flow in the heart may be inadequate.
Sometimes nuclear imaging may be used with a stress test to assess the heart during periods of rest, before exercise and after exercise.
Tilt table testing
A title table test is used to diagnose patients experiencing recurrent fainting spells (syncope). To begin the test, the patients lies down on their back. A specialized table is used that will change positions during the test. As the positions change, a patient is closely monitored for any cardiac symptoms and changes in heart rate or blood pressure.
Fainting spells occur when the nerves that control the function of the heart and blood vessels are unable to control the body's blood pressure by increasing the heart rate and tightening the blood vessels. When this occurs, the heart rate slows, blood pressure drops and the person loses consciousness. Once a normal, flat position is restored, the patient will regain consciousness.
The test is designed to induce a fainting spell in a controlled medical environment. While upright during the test, blood collects in the lower portion of the body, primarily the legs. When this occurs, people with a nerve abnormality will experience less blood returning to the heart and a drop in blood pressure.