Bradley Memorial campus:
New Britain General campus:
The Hospital of Central Connecticut offers a variety of services and technologies to diagnose cardiac conditions and monitor the effectiveness of treatments. Diagnostic tests include cardiac PET-CT scanning at the New Britain General campus to check for arterial blockages. Learn more about cardiac PET-CT scanning
Echocardiography is a painless, noninvasive test that can be performed at the hospital bedside or as an outpatient procedure. An echocardiogram uses high-frequency sound waves to provide a picture of the contracting heart, its valves and blood flow through the heart.
Since sound waves travel poorly through bone, lung and thick chest walls, ultrasonic examination may be difficult in certain people.
These patients may have a transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE), which uses a special probe passed into the esophagus so that an ultrasonic picture of the heart can be obtained without interference from the lungs or ribcage.
The Hospital of Central Connecticut's Echocardiography Laboratory is staffed by cardiologists and registered technologists. Morgan Werner, M.D., is medical director and Robert Malkin, M.D., is associate director.
The electrocardiogram (EKG) is the most common, noninvasive exam to assess heart function. It provides information about the heart's rate, rhythm and electrical activity. The hospital performs approximately 40,000 electrocardiograms annually, and each is reviewed and interpreted by a board-certified cardiologist.
Normal heart function begins with an electrical impulse produced by the heart's own natural "pacemaker." Electrical impulses travel through a complex circuit within the heart and control heart rate and rhythm -- necessary for pumping blood through the heart and body. Cardiac disease may result in abnormal electrical activity and heart rhythms.
Life-threatening or life-disturbing rhythm abnormalities, called arrhythmias, frequently require an electrophysiology (EP) study. The study helps doctors identify the source and type of arrhythmia and most effective treatment.
Arrhythmia treatments usually involve medication, but in some instances, a serious cardiac arrhythmia called ventricular tachycardia does not respond well to drug therapy. Because of the high risk of cardiac arrest, a defibrillator implanted in the chest is often the best treatment.
An implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD) detects the presence of the potentially deadly arrhythmia and within seconds delivers an electrical charge to the heart that can restore normal rhythm.
In Holter monitoring (ambulatory electrocardiography) a lightweight, portable monitor records the electrocardiogram for 24 hours while the wearer goes about his or her normal day. This study can be useful in diagnosing abnormal heart rhythm symptoms.
When abnormal heart rhythm symptoms occur infrequently, Holter monitoring may not detect them in 24 hours. Ambulatory arrhythmia monitoring allows several weeks of continuous monitoring. The wearer can activate the monitor to record the EKG only during symptoms.
The hospital has been implanting and monitoring the effectiveness of pacemakers for over 25 years. In fact, the former New Britain General was one of the first Connecticut hospitals to establish a Pacemaker Clinic to allow patients to have their pacemakers monitored over the telephone from home.
PET-CT scanning combines two technologies: positron emission tomography, which detects chemical activities that can show certain heart conditions; and CT scanning, which shows heart and blood vessel structure. PET-CT scans are used to evaluate arterial blockages associated with coronary artery disease. For a PET-CT scan, patients will receive an injection of a tracer material that is carried to the heart. Using the PET-CT scanner, doctors can evaluate the condition of the blood vessels carrying blood to the heart and the heart itself.
Read about cardiac PET-CT scanning
Learn more about PET-CT scanning
Tilt table evaluation
A number of heart conditions can cause syncope, or fainting. The tilt table test can assist in determining the cause. Lying on a tilt table, the patient is moved from a flat to a standing position while blood pressure, heart rate, heart rhythm and patient symptoms are monitored.
Changes in blood pressure, heart rate and the presence of symptoms can help to establish the cause of syncope or determine if further testing is needed.
Stress testing is a non-invasive test that can:
- Screen people for heart disease
- Determine how well the heart is functioning
- Evaluate people with chest pain
- Evaluate results of angioplasty or heart surgery
- Clear people for strenuous work or exercise programs
The test is performed on a treadmill with the amount of effort gradually increasing. Blood pressure, pulse and electrocardiogram are monitored throughout.
A pharmacologic stress test uses medication rather than exercise to increase heart rate or blood flow.
All tests are conducted by board-certified cardiologists.
Nuclear stress testing
During stress testing with nuclear imaging, a radioactive substance is used to identify or evaluate cardiac abnormalities. These studies are useful in detecting the size and location of heart damage or decreased blood flow to the heart.