It can be worrying and a little bit scary to be referred by your doctor to a specialist or private cardiologist for a heart screening. However, your mind can be eased by finding out a bit more about the sort of heart screening tests you may undergo. After all, knowledge is power, so why not find out as much as possible before your appointment?
When it comes to your heart screening, your private cardiologist will have a number of options to choose from. Many factors can affect which option your cardiologist chooses using his or her professional opinion, such as your age or your medical history. Your job can also affect the decision, as, for example, someone competing in sporting events may need to undergo different tests to someone with a family history of heart disease.
An electrocardiogram (ECG) is one of the more standard tests. This test gives a bottom line evaluation on how your heart is performing. The ECG test will reflect things such as previous damage to the heart musculature and anything out of the ordinary. It might turn up nothing, though that doesn’t always mean a clean bill of health.
A private echocardiogram is another commonly used procedure, which offers an intimate and revealing picture of the heart’s chambers and valves. This is achieved using ultrasound techniques, like those used on pregnant women.
Similar to this is a stress echocardiogram, which allows your cardiologist to examine the difference in your heart’s performance when it is under stress (such as after exercise) and when is at rest.
Sometimes, if your cardiologist has medical cause to suspect a problem with the structure of your heart he will perform a cardiac MRI test, which uses large magnets to map your hearts structure in great detail. One test doesn’t mean a worse problem than another; your doctor will use the best one to get most quickly to the cause of any problems and suggest a recommended course of action which best suits your condition.