Identification of severe aortic stenosis can be confirmed by examining the heart and listening for a heart murmur, which is typical of the disease. This can be performed by using imaging tests. Receiving an appropriate diagnosis and getting treated quickly is critical, as once patients begin exhibiting symptoms, the disease progresses rapidly and can be life-threatening.
This is why the INTEGRIS Heart Hospital Heart Valve Clinic is committed to one-day combined appointments which include a visit with an interventional cardiologist, a cardiovascular surgeon and the necessary diagnostic tests, thus allowing for rapid diagnosis.
Tests used to diagnose heart valve disease range from routine physical exams to more sophisticated computer imaging. During your evaluation at INTEGRIS, you may undergo some or all of the following procedures:
- Physical exam - Your physician will take a careful and detailed history from you and listen to your heart to hear how the valves are opening and closing.
- Electrocardiogram - An ECG measures the electrical activity of your heart, which may reveal heart rhythm irregularities or enlargement of the heart. It is performed by placing electrode patches on the chest and extremities and connecting these electrodes to an ECG machine.
- Holter monitoring - You may be asked to wear a portable device that measures a continuous ECG to catch intermittent arrhythmias.
- Nuclear scanning - Nuclear scanning refers to imaging of the body’s internal organs using radioactive waves, ultrasound or magnetic fields.
- Echocardiogram – This test uses sound waves to create detailed images of your heart on a video screen. It is used to see how the valves move when your heart beats and also to observe blood volume, speed, and direction of flow through the valves.
- Cardiac catheterization (angiography) – Cardiac catheterization is used to determine if a patient has coronary artery disease. It also accurately measures blood pressures inside the heart, which is one of the most effective ways of diagnosing heart valve disease. It can also pinpoint any plaque build-up from atherosclerosis.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – An MRI scan uses a magnetic field and radio waves to obtain detailed 3-dimensional images of your heart and valves. It is used to evaluate your heart, heart valves, lungs, major vessels and pericardium.
- Computerized Tomographic Scanning (CT or CAT scan) – A CT scan can be used to evaluate not only the heart and valves, but also blood vessels elsewhere in the body, which can be important when determining what type of therapy is best suited for treatment of your heart valve disease. INTEGRIS Heart Hospital has the only 320-slice CT scanner in the state, which provides the highest quality images with minimal radiation exposure.