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Cardiovascular Testing & Diagnosis

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Call the University Health Heart & Vascular Institute at 210-644-3278.

Cardiovascular Testing & Diagnosis

Diagnosing Heart and Vascular Conditions

When you have a heart condition, you need treatment options you can count on. At University Health, our heart program includes skilled cardiologists, cardiothoracic and vascular surgeons who treat patients with a wide range of cardiovascular conditions.

Our care begins with the initial and accurate diagnosis of your heart or vascular condition and continues through intervention and all the way through to your rehabilitation.

Leading-Edge Diagnostic Equipment and Highly-Trained Technicians

We perform hundreds of leading-edge heart and vascular procedures each year. Before our surgeons begin any kind of treatment, we rely on advanced testing and technologies to diagnose your condition. In addition, our clinical staff includes highly-trained, diagnostic technicians and American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Magnet-certified nurses.

Below are some of the tests and imaging exams we use to help us determine the cause of your medical condition.

Cardiac Testing
3D Electrical-Signal Mapping of the Heart

An electrophysiology (EP) study involves the three-dimensional mapping of the electrical pathways of your heart. Using this 3D map, your doctor can search for the “short circuit” causing your irregular heart rhythm. We use state-of-the-art, three-dimensional imaging technology instead of standard X-rays.


Coronary Angiogram (Diagnostic Cardiac Catheterization)

A short, hollow tube is inserted into a blood vessel in your arm or leg. Then, a catheter is inserted into the tube and positioned to release dye into the heart. The dye shows up on X-ray and other tests. This allows your doctor to evaluate your heart function.

The procedure is used to confirm coronary artery disease, determine how your heart muscle functions and identify treatments that may be needed. It can be used for both diagnostic and interventional purposes.

Peripheral Angiogram

Your doctor uses X-rays to help find narrowed or blocked areas in one or more of your arteries. A catheter placed into the arteries delivers a dye into the bloodstream, visible by X-ray. Narrowed or blocked arteries appear on a video screen.

Artery Testing

We conduct a number of arterial tests on the upper and lower extremities, most often to diagnose peripheral arterial disease (PAD).

The series of tests typically includes one or more of the following:

  • Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI) tests
  • Color Doppler Ultrasound
  • Computerized Tomography (CT) Angiogram
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiogram (MRA)
  • Pulse and blood pressure checks

Drug-induced Stress Test

If you can't exercise on a treadmill, we offer another option—a pharmacological nuclear stress test. During this diagnostic test, an intravenous (IV) line delivers a vasodilator drug to dilate your blood vessels, mimicking the effect of exercise. The IV also injects a nuclear radioisotope, which is a dye that allows a special scanner to capture images of blood flow through your heart. The images reveal the parts of the heart muscle that are not receiving enough blood flow. This test helps your doctor find irregular heart rhythms, areas of the heart not getting enough blood and oxygen, and how quickly the heart recovers after exercise.

Studies of the Heart’s Electrical Activity

Electrophysiology (EP) studies record your heart’s electrical activity.

We conduct tests if you are experiencing:

  • Heart rhythms that are too slow (bradycardia)
  • Heart rhythms that are too fast (tachycardia)
  • Feelings of dizziness or an episode of losing consciousness (fainting)
  • Symptoms that may indicate the need for a pacemaker or an ablation procedure
Heart Biopsy

Small pieces of tissue taken from the heart muscle help your doctor diagnose a condition that may require a change in your medical therapy. Heart biopsies often help determine if a virus has caused inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis) or to check for signs of a heart transplant rejection.

Light-beam Imaging of the Coronary Arteries

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is imaging technology similar to intravascular ultrasound, except it uses light instead of sound to capture images from inside the coronary artery. These high-resolution, three-dimensional images give your doctor a clear picture of your arteries to identify areas of plaque buildup or blockage.

One- and Two-day Heart Monitoring

We use this technique, also called ambulatory monitoring, to continuously record your heart’s activity for 24 to 48 hours to detect changes in its rhythm.

Sticky patches called electrodes are placed on your chest and connected to a portable monitor you wear during all your regular daily activities (eating, sleeping, working). The monitor helps detect an arrhythmia—when your heart beats too quickly, too slowly or irregularly—and whether treatments are working. You will keep a log of your activities while wearing the monitor.

Testing for Thickened Heart Muscle

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) evaluation is a diagnostic strategy we use to detect this inherited disease of the heart muscle. HCM can cause the wall of the heart muscle to thicken, obstructing blood flow from the heart. This genetic heart disease can cause sudden cardiac death in young people and heart failure in people of any age.

  1. Anand Dayama, MD
    Vascular Surgery
  2. Steve Tsai, MD
    Cardiology Nuclear Cardiology
  3. Tri Te, DO