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Heart Center FAQs

Diagnostic Testing

What are the different types of tests?

Centegra provides the following diagnostic tests for heart disease:

  • Stress exercise tests
  • Nuclear medicine stress tests
  • Heart monitoring
  • Electrophysiology
  • Echocardiogram
  • Additional diagnostic tests

Does Centegra Heart Center offer other cardiac diagnostic tests?

In addition to cardiac stress tests and heart monitoring, we offer a Tilt Table Test and Transesophageal Echocardiograms (TEE).

Do I have to make an appointment with a doctor to take a cardiac diagnostic test?

Yes. You must have a doctor’s order before a Centegra Associate can schedule your test.

Electrophysiology

What is an electrophysiology procedure study (EP study)?

An electrophysiology procedure study is recommended for patients with heart rhythm disorders or who may be at risk for sudden cardiac death.

How is an EP study performed?

You will be given medication to help you relax. A small area in either your groin or neck will be numbed and a small catheter (tube) will be inserted.

Once the catheter reaches the heart, electrodes at the tip of the catheter gather data and make electrical measurements. These measurements help to pinpoint the location of the faulty electrical site. At this time, the electrophysiologist may induce the arrhythmia, which is necessary to ensure the precise location of the problematic tissue. After the damaged area is confirmed, the electrophysiologist may administer different medications or electrical impulses to determine their ability to stop the arrhythmia and restore the normal heart rhythm.

Based on the data from the EP study and information provided by you before the study begins, the electrophysiologist may choose to implant a pacemaker.

What should I expect?

The procedure generally is not painful, although you may feel some pressure as the catheter is inserted. For many, the most difficult part of the procedure is having to lie still.

How long does an EP study procedure usually take?

A complete EP study procedure usually takes about two hours.

How should I prepare for an EP study?

  • Generally, you will be asked not to eat or drink anything for six to eight hours before the procedure.
  • You may be asked to stop some medications before the procedure. Please ask your electrophysiologist if you are to stop any medication.
  • Make arrangements with a friend or family member to drive you to and from the hospital. You will not be able to drive home after the procedure.
  • Pack a small bag in case your electrophysiologist decides to keep you in the hospital overnight.
  • Bring a list of the names and dosages of all the medications you are taking.

Tilt Table Test

What is a tilt table test?

A tilt table test is done to see if you will pass out. This test is performed at the Centegra Heart Center.

How is the tilt table test done?

During the test, you will lie on a cushioned table. A heart monitor will be attached to your chest using small patches. Our staff will monitor your blood pressure and oxygen levels. A small IV of saline will be started. You will be covered with a blanket and straps will be placed across your chest and knees, leaving your arms free. The bottoms of your feet (in shoes) will rest against a plate at the end of the table.

The room will be darkened slightly and you will rest in the room for 20 to 30 minutes. The staff will then raise you on the table into a standing position. Your heart, blood pressure and oxygen levels will be monitored for a period of time. You will be watched to see if you get lightheaded, dizzy, or if you pass out. You will remain standing for about 20 to 50 minutes. Sometimes a medication is used to drop your blood pressure or raise your heart rate to see how your body responds.

Why is the tilt table test done?

A tilt table test is done when you have been getting dizzy, lightheaded or you have been passing out. Your physician is trying to see if a change in position is causing your blood pressure or heart rate to respond incorrectly.

How should I prepare for a tilt table test?

  • Do not eat or drink anything for four to six hours prior to the appointment.
  • Please arrive 30 to 45 minutes prior to your appointment time.
  • Do not smoke the morning of your test.
  • Wear comfortable, non-restrictive clothing.
  • Female patients may be screened for pregnancy.
  • Contact your doctor or care provider about what medications you can take the day of your test.
  • Please bring a driver with you. Medication may be used during the test.
  • A Heart Center Associate will contact you before the test.
  • Please contact your doctor for the results of the test.

Transesophageal Echocardiogram

What is a transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE)?

A transesophageal echocardiogram, also known as TEE, is an ultrasound test of the heart. A TEE allows the doctor to get clear, detailed pictures of your heart and aorta. It shows how well your heart is pumping and how well your heart valves are working.

How is a transesophageal echocardiogram done?

A TEE is done by placing a long, thin tube called a gastroscope into your esophagus. On the tip of the gastroscope is a device that is able to take pictures using sound waves. Since your heart is next to your esophagus, the gastroscope is able to get excellent pictures of your heart, which allows the doctor to see how your heart is working.

What should I expect during the test?

  • Your heart rhythm will be monitored.
  • Your pulse and blood pressure will be checked frequently.
  • Your oxygen level may be monitored using a clip on your finger or toe.
  • You may be given oxygen.
  • You will lie on your left side in bed in a darkened room.
  • The doctor or nurse will spray the back of your throat with a numbing medicine. This will make you more comfortable during the procedure.
  • An IV will be started and you will be given some medicine to make you feel sleepy.
  • During the procedure, all you need to do is rest.

What should I expect after the test?

  • Your pulse and blood pressure will be checked frequently.
  • You will be allowed to rest until you are fully awake.
  • You may not have anything to eat or drink until the numbing medicine in your throat has worn off.

When you go home, follow these instructions:

  • Do not drive or use heavy machinery the day of the test. The medicine makes you sleepy.
  • Do not make any major decisions or sign any legal documents the day of the test.
  • Rest the day of your test. Go back to your normal activities the day after your test.
  • Call your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.

How should I prepare for my transesophageal echocardiogram?

  • Do not eat or drink six hours prior to your test.
  • Arrive a minimum of 45 minutes before the test if you will not be receiving antibiotics. Arrive at least one hour prior to your test if you are to receive antibiotics.
  • Please arrange for a ride home.

Heart Monitoring

What is an event monitor?

An event monitor is a small monitor (about the size of a deck of cards) that is attached to wires, which are attached to your chest by two electrodes (ECG/EKG patches).

Why did my doctor order an event monitor?

When you are having symptoms such as dizziness, lightheadedness, chest pain or shortness of breath, your doctor may want to see if your heart is the cause of the symptoms.

How does the event monitor work?

When you have a symptom, you will press a record button on the monitor. The monitor will then record your heartbeat for about one minute. Then you will phone in the recording or “event” to a company, LIFEWATCH, and in turn LIFEWATCH will call your doctor and tell him or her what has been seen on the recording.

Where do I get the event monitor?

You can be set up for an event monitor at the Heart Centers at both Centegra Hospital-McHenry and Centegra Hospital-Woodstock. The Heart Center staff will register you with LIFEWATCH and send a test strip. In 30 days, you will mail the monitor back to LIFEWATCH in the provided envelope.

What can I do while wearing the event monitor?

You can do all your regular daily activities, including cooking, cleaning, exercising, shopping, etc. You CANNOT, however, get the monitor WET. You CANNOT bathe, shower, or swim with it. You may take it off and replace the electrodes as needed. Plenty of electrodes are provided:

  • Please wear a loose-fitting shirt or top, preferably button down, over your monitor.
  • Please do not apply any lotions or powders to your skin.
  • Please call your doctor’s office for the results.

What is a holter monitor?

A holter monitor is a small (about the size of a deck of cards) heart monitor that is attached to your chest with monitor wires by ECG/EKG patches. It is worn under your clothes for 24 to 48 hours. The monitor records each heartbeat in that time period. The data is recorded on a small computer chip and viewed by the Heart Center staff and the doctor or cardiologist on a computer screen.

What can I do while wearing the Holter monitor?

The holter monitor can be worn around microwaves and electrical appliances. It will work during exercise, sleep and daily activities. It CANNOT, however, get wet or be worn while bathing, swimming or showering.

Where do I go for the Holter monitor?

You can be set up for a Holter monitor at the Heart Centers at both Centegra Hospital-McHenry and Centegra Hospital-Woodstock. Please arrive 15 minutes before your appointment. You will also return the monitor to the same area.

  • Please wear a loose-fitting shirt or top, preferably button down, over your monitor.
  • Please do not apply lotions or powders to your skin.
  • Please call your doctor’s office for the results.

Cardiac Catheterization

How is a cardiac catheterization performed?

If you are to going to have a cardiac catheterization, you will receive mild sedation to help you relax. Then, a small area of skin is numbed and a tiny catheter (tube) is inserted into your groin, wrist or arm. A catheter is inserted into the artery and guided toward the heart. The catheter may be removed and replaced several times. This is done to reach each of the heart chambers and coronary arteries. Once a catheter is inside the heart, the cardiologist can measure the pressures in the left ventricle (the main pumping chamber) and take pictures of the coronary arteries. If you are also having a right heart catheterization, a special catheter is inserted into a vein and guided to the right side of the heart. This is usually done to measure the pressures inside the right heart chambers and in the lungs.

How long does this procedure usually last?

A complete cardiac catheterization procedure usually takes one to two hours.

What should I expect?

Cardiac catheterization generally is not painful, although you may feel some pressure as the catheters are inserted. You will not feel the catheters as they move through the blood vessels and into your heart. For many, the most difficult part of the procedure is having to lie still. As X-ray contrast dye is injected into the heart, you may feel a warm sensation through your body, lasting 20 to 30 seconds. You may feel slight nausea, chest discomfort, or get a mild headache. If you feel pain or discomfort at any time during the procedure, let the staff know.

How should I prepare for a cardiac catheterization?

  • Generally, you should not eat or drink anything for six to eight hours before the procedure.
  • You may be asked to stop some medications before the procedure.
  • Make arrangements with a friend or family member to drive you to and from the hospital. You will not be able to drive home after the procedure.
  • Pack a small bag in case your cardiologist decides to keep you in the hospital overnight.
  • Bring a list all the medications you are taking, including dosage.
  • Tell the cardiologist or nurse if you have had any allergic reactions to medications, X-ray dye, iodine, seafood, or if you have a history of bleeding problems.

Who needs an angioplasty?

Cardiologists can determine if a heart attack is imminent and can perform elective angioplasty to prevent it from happening. An emergency angioplasty is performed on patients who are in the midst of a heart attack. Both elective and emergency angioplasty services are offered at Centegra Health System.

What can I expect during an angioplasty?

Throughout this one- to two-hour process, you are resting in conscious sedation, allowing for communication between you and the team. A small catheter with dye is inserted to help identify the blood vessels in your heart that are blocked. Then, the angioplasty is performed, restoring blood flow to the heart. Depending on your condition, you might stay overnight for monitoring.

What are the benefits of angioplasty?

Angioplasty is an effective and safe treatment. In many cases, angioplasty keeps physicians from having to perform open-heart surgery.