Cardiovascular Diagnostics & Testing

MarinHealth provides state-of-the-art cardiovascular testing, imaging, and diagnostics:

  • To diagnose an urgent condition, such as an apparent heart attack
  • To screen people who have been experiencing chest pain or shortness of breath, or have an intermediate to high risk for heart disease
  • To proactively detect early signs of heart disease

Diagnostic tests to detect heart disease are classified as either noninvasive or invasive. Noninvasive tests do not require penetration of the skin or a body cavity beyond the use of an injection. Invasive tests involve puncturing the skin and entering major blood vessels, and must be performed at the Haynes Cardiovascular Institute at MarinHealth Medical Center, usually on an outpatient basis.

View a list of cardiovascular tests available at each of our locations, or learn more about our Cardiovascular Performance Center.

An echocardiogram–often called “echo” or cardiac ultrasound, provides a graphic outline of the heart’s structures, movement, and function and helps with the diagnosis of arrhythmias.

Computed Tomography (CT)
This imaging technique combines rotating X-ray equipment with a digital computer to produce remarkably clear, detailed, cross-sectional imaging of the heart and coronary arteries.

  • CT Coronary Angiography uses X-rays and intravenous contrast to visualize the circulatory system throughout the body, including the heart.
  • Calcium Scoring is a noninvasive way of obtaining information about the location and extent of calcified plaque deposits, a marker for heart disease, in the coronary arteries.
  • Peripheral Vascular Angiography is used to detect narrowing or blockages in the blood vessels caused by peripheral artery disease (PAD).

Ambulatory Heart Monitors
Event recorders are computer chips the size of a business card. Typically carried for 30 days, they record heart rhythm information similar to an ECG but over a long period of time. This type of testing is used for patients who experience transient symptoms that suggest a cardiac arrhythmia.

Stress Tests
Several types of stress tests can be conducted depending on your overall health and mobility. Exercise stress tests involve exercising on a treadmill or stationary bicycle. Pharmacologic stress tests involve the injection of a medication that mimics the effect of exercise on the heart. Regardless of whether exercise or medications are used to speed the heart rate, we can evaluate function in a variety of ways:

  • Stress Electrocardiogram (Stress ECG/Treadmill)
    An ECG allows your physician to compare your heart’s electrical activity at rest and under physical exertion. Stress ECGs are often combined with imaging techniques.
  • Radionuclide Test
    A radionuclide test combines an ECG with a blood flow analysis. It involves an injection of a small amount of radioactive material to measure blood flow to the heart, both at rest and during physical exertion. The resulting images reveal areas of damaged heart muscle and low blood flow.
  • Stress Echocardiogram
    A stress echocardiogram combines the ECG and heart function. It is an imaging modality that shows the heart in action to measure and evaluate both the electrical activity and the function and strength of the muscle under stress.
  • Myocardial Perfusion
    A myocardial perfusion test evaluates the blood flow through the coronary arteries to the heart muscle using a radioactive tracer. The completed exam consists of intravenous access, resting images, a stress test, and stress imaging.

Vascular Tests
Usually performed non-invasively, vascular tests detect the presence, severity, and general location of vascular and arterial disease.

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