Hey MG -- I've been in the heart-go-round for a while now and just had a
pacemaker implanted a couple of weeks back. If you have any questions or
need to talk, feel free to e-mail me.
My experience with my own cardiologist has shown that they will take it easy
with non-life-threatening conditions, waiting until appointments and so
forth. When it's a serious condition requiring immediate attention though,
they don't fool around.
FWIW, here is some information on some of the more common tests they might
run. Since I've no idea how familiar you are with these things, I'll
explain each briefly -- drop a note if you have any questions.
Blood tests are used to rule out heart attacks that have recently
occurred -- they search for a protein released during the heart attack.
Unfortunately, that protein is gone after about 24 hours if memory serves,
so this has limited value. To know for certain whether or not a heart
attack has occurred, they'll want to do an angiogram -- this is where they
insert a cath up the leg into the heart and examine the tissue for damage.
One of the most common tests they run is an echocardiogram. This is
basically the same a sonogram but directed at the heart. It's non-invasive
and gives information on heart function.
Naturally, they'll run one or more EKGs -- I'm sure you're familiar with
these by now. They had them going when they ran the stress test and they
probably already gave you one when you came into the office. An abnormal
EKG can show a lot of things and may show the need for further testing.
If they suspect a blockage they may choose to do an angiogram or they may
choose to do a cardiolite stress test. A cardiolite stress test is a
non-invasive test given in two phases on different days. On day 1 they
inject a radioactive dye into your system, put you on the treadmill to get
your heart rate up, then have you lay on a table that shoots a 3D image of
your heart beating. The image is reconstructed by the computer and allows
them to see blood flow through the heart. On day #2 (1-5 days later
typically) they do everything the same but without the treadmill (at rest).
If you're suffering an arrythmia (odd beat) they might do an
electrophysiology study (similar to an angiogram in process but with
different items examined) or they could put you on a monitor for 24 hours
(in or out of the office).
These are some of the more common tests they'll run in the early sessions.
I know what it's like to be sort of flying in the wind with heart issues --
I've been fairly well alone with my own. If you need to talk about any of
it, e-mail me, 'k?
Hope some of this helps.