Cardiac Imaging

When a physician suspects that you’ve broken a bone, he or she will order an X-ray. If ligament damage is suspected, other types of imaging scans will be recommended to properly visualize the damage and make an accurate diagnosis.

When it comes to your heart, cardiac imaging (also called a heart scan or heart tests) is used to help physicians capture vivid depictions of the heart’s anatomy and determine why it’s working less than optimally. New technologies in cardiac imaging are allowing cardiovascular specialists to more easily make informed diagnoses than ever before, which allows patients to receive necessary treatment faster.

Types of Cardiac Imaging

Cardiovascular disease manifests in many ways, and hundreds of medical conditions can have some impact on the heart and vascular system. That’s why an accurate diagnosis is so important — it helps direct the care a patient receives for his or her specific condition.

To determine the exact issue with a person’s heart, as well as the severity of the condition and how the heart is affected, physicians may employ any of a wide range of cardiac imaging tests, including:

  • Cardiac computed (CT) tomography, including CT angiography, which uses X-rays to capture images of the heart
  • Cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging, which uses radio waves and magnets to capture images of the heart
  • Echocardiography, also called EKG, which uses high-frequency sound waves to capture images of the heart
  • Positron emission tomography with CT fusion, which uses small amounts of radioactive material and a specialized camera to evaluate heart function
  • Stress tests, which help determine how your heart handles activity

While each test differs in how images or diagnostic data are gathered, these tests can all play an important role in helping a cardiovascular specialist evaluate your heart health. Cardiac imaging is often an important step on your path to resolving a heart-related issue and getting you back to feeling your best.

When your heart isn’t working at its best, cardiac imaging can help identify the root of the issue.

Sources: American Heart Association, National Institutes of Health, Medline Plus