Tests to Evaluate Your Heart Health

Diagnosing a heart or vascular condition can quickly save or help to preserve your quality of life. We offer many heart screening and diagnostic tests on an outpatient basis. Depending on your situation, your primary care physician or cardiologist may order several procedures in order to gain accurate and complete information and help prevent heart health issues in the future.

Our board certified cardiologists with HCA Midwest Heart and Vascular Institute can uncover all forms of heart disease. Our experts use cutting-edge equipment to provide comprehensive heart tests and cardiac imaging options. We offer state-of-the-art imaging technology, software and protocols to reduce you or your loved ones exposure to radiation.

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Stress Test

If you are experiencing symptoms of heart disease, your Overland Park cardiologist may order a stress test if they suspect coronary artery disease or arrhythmia. A stress test provides insight about how your heart works during physical activity. It may help expose problems that are not obvious when your heart is at rest. This test is not meant to detect early coronary artery disease. Patients will only appear positive for the disease if one of their arteries is narrowed by 70 percent or greater. If you have already been diagnosed with coronary artery disease, your cardiologist may order this test to help create or assess your treatment plan.

Your heart doctor will work with you to choose the type of cardiology stress test that fits your needs.

Treadmill Stress Test

This is the simplest type of stress test. It is also known as an exercise stress test and it involves walking on a treadmill while your heartbeat (via an EKG), blood pressure and breathing are tested.

Stress Echo

An ultrasound of your heart or an echocardiogram is performed while at rest and then again immediately after exercising.

Nuclear Stress Test

A nuclear stress test is done both before and after exercising. A radioactive tracer is fed through an IV into your bloodstream and images of your heart are taken with a nuclear camera. If the tracer is evenly distributed, your blood is flowing normally. If the blood flow is unevenly distributed in the same areas at rest and after exercise, the test indicates areas that have been affected by a heart attack. If the tracer is unevenly distributed in an area only after exercise, it means that blood flow in that area is restricted and you have a blockage. This may require a heart catheterization.

If a person is unable to exercise, medication can be administered to mimic the effects of exercise on the heart.

Heart Scan (Coronary Calcium Scan)

A calcium heart scan, or calcium scoring, is a type of CT scan that can detect the buildup of in the coronary arteries. The non-invasive test is primarily recommended for men over 40 and women over 50 years old. There is no prep required and the actual test takes less than five minutes. A coronary calcium scan can pick up plaque build-up before it is severe which is why it is ideal for people with no symptoms of heart disease. With this test, you are able to make lifestyle changes or start medication to possibly prevent or slow the development of heart disease.

Based on the test, you will receive a score. A score of zero means you do not have any calcified plaque. There is no upper limit but the higher your score the more plaque buildup you have and the greater you are at risk for a coronary event such as a heart attack.

This scan is usually not covered by insurance but is available for $50. In Kansas, you will need to have your primary care physician or cardiologist order the test.

Heart Disease Risk Assessment

Cardiac MRI

If you are experiencing symptoms of cardiovascular disease, your heart doctor may order a cardiac MRI. Overland Park Regional Medical Center offers Cardiac MRI, which uses magnetic waves and computers to capture two and three-dimensional images of the heart and its’ valves. A Cardiac MRI does not use radiation. In some instances, EKG leads may be placed on your chest during the test. Contrast dye may also be administered via an IV to aid in diagnosis. A Cardiac MRI can be used to identify damage from a heart attack and blockages, as well as other structural problems with the heart.

Cardiac CT

Our state-of-the-art 128-slice cardiac CT scan, takes three-dimensional x-ray images of your heart and is primarily used to check for coronary artery disease. Your physician may order this non-invasive test if you have been experiencing symptoms like chest pain or shortness of breath. During a Cardiac CT contrast dye is administered via an IV to help highlight the coronary arteries and check for narrowing or blockage. The test can measure blood flow changes in the coronary arteries to determine if you have significant coronary artery disease. A Cardiac CT can also help avoid unnecessary invasive testing. If a significant blockage is discovered, you may need a minimally invasive diagnostic heart cath.

Advanced Blood Flow Testing

A cardiac CT scan can provide your physician with the information needed to scan will provide your cardiologist with enough information to decide the next steps in to manage your heart condition. This advanced test provides your physician with how each blockage is affecting the flow of blood to your heart.

Overland Park Regional Medical Center offers HeartFlow® FFRCT Analysis, an advanced, non-invasive test. This test does not require an additional appointment and uses your current CT scan to create a computerized 3D model of your coronary arteries. This test calculates how much each blockage is limiting blood flow. Your heart doctor is then able to develop a treatment plan specific to your heart needs.

Heart Echo

This test is an ultrasound of the heart that uses sound waves to examine your heart’s size, shape and motion. An echocardiogram captures still and moving images of your heart without exposing you to any radiation. If you are experiencing shortness of breath or a heart murmur, this is usually one of the first tests your physician will order. It can help identify leaky valves, weakness, infection and can measure blood pressure. A heart echo can also be used to detect congenital heart defects in babies in utero. There are two ways echocardiograms are performed:

  • Transthoracic – This is your standard heart echo test. A technician will apply gel to your skin and use a transducer to take pictures of your heart. It is simple, painless, non-invasive. Contrast dye may be administered through an IV to help with picture clarity.
  • Transesophageal – It can be difficult to get a clear image of the heart with a standard heart echo. During a transesophageal echo, a flexible tube with a small transducer is guided down your throat into the esophagus. From there, it can take clearer images of the heart. This procedure is quick and painless. Patients are given medicine in order to not experience any discomfort during the procedure.

Nuclear Heart Test

This type of test is used to evaluate the way your heart functions. A special radioactive tracer is administered through an IV and a special nuclear camera is used to make three-dimensional pictures. The pictures show different colors or levels of brightness to indicate the health of the tissue. The amount of radiation used in these tests are very small and the tests are safe for most people.

Cardiac Catheterization

Our Cardiac Catheterization labs are staffed 24/7 with a highly skilled team to reduce a patients time to treatment This invasive imaging procedure used to diagnose coronary artery disease, heart valve defects and congenital heart defects. Also known as a coronary angiogram, during the procedure a catheter is inserted into an artery in the groin or arm and gently guided up into the coronary arteries. A dye is administered via the catheter and x-ray images are taken of the arteries. Cardiac catheterization allows interventional cardiologists to see the heart as it pumps blood. This provides the most accurate and complete information for a physician. An angioplasty can be performed at the same time if a significant blockage is discovered, which can help prevent a potential heart attack.