Heart Attack Testing: Faq
Q: Why do I have to submit to a bunch of tests?A: Tests help the doctor determine if a heart attack occurred, how much your heart was damaged and what degree of coronary artery disease you might have. The tests screen your heart and help the doctor determine what treatment and lifestyle changes will keep your heart healthy and prevent serious future medical events.
Q: Whats the difference between invasive and non-invasive tests?A: Non-invasive cardiac tests measure your hearts activity through external imaging and electrocardiography. Invasive tests include drawing and testing samples of your blood, and inserting and threading a thin hollow tube called a catheter into a blood vessel to get an inside view.
Q: How can I learn more about the tests that may be performed?A: These diagnostic tests and procedures can reveal if you had a heart attack, how much damage was done and what degree of coronary artery disease you have.
Q: What types of treatment will I get after the hospital diagnoses my heart attack?A: If youve had a heart attack, you may have already had undergone certain procedures to help you survive your heart attack. Those same procedures can help to diagnose your condition. Such procedures include:
Lab Testing For Heart Disease
Seeing your doctor for a physical exam is a good first step toward staying healthy. However, many heart and vascular conditions are difficult to diagnose from a single exam. Thats why after a complete physical exam and review of your symptoms and health history, your doctor may refer you to one of our labs for additional tests.
With Aurora Health Care, youll have access to some of the best-equipped labs close to home.
One Of The Key Indicators That Allows Our Cardiac Team To Determine Whether A Patient Is Having A Heart Attack Starts With A Blood Test
Cardiac patients will have their blood drawn by our phlebotomists. The benefit of an on-site Blood Lab to our patients is that all of the work is done in house, explains CCA phlebotomist Olana Crawford. We test for troponin, a protein thats released into the bloodstream during a heart attack. Your blood is drawn and processed in our lab down the hall. CCA can provide ECA patient test results in under an hour if necessary. When your blood work is done here, the results are immediately sent your physician. If there are any critical issues, the results are taken to a nurse who calls your cardiologist who recommends treatment immediately.
If we find that patient is having a heart attack, we get them admitted to the ER right away, adds Crawford. When not administering blood tests for ECA patients, the CCA Blood Lab also processes blood work for our patients. These tests are ordered by doctors and can include baseline blood tests, the kidney, the liver, to all cardiac tests. If its a specialized test that we cant perform, we can collect the sample and send it to St. Peters. We get the results back in a few hours, noted Crawford.
To learn more about Capital Cardiology Associates walk-in Enhanced Cardiac Access Suite, click here. Make an appointment to today at
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What Do The Results Mean
The cardiac enzyme test gives you a number measured in nanograms per milliliter . This tells your doctor how much of the enzyme is in your blood.
It can find even very small amounts. It takes 1 billion nanograms to make just 1 gram.
Labs test for enzymes in different ways, so whatâs normal depends on where you had the test done. Your doctor can help you understand what your numbers mean. Theyâll also give you a physical exam and look at other test results to get the full picture of whatâs happened.
How Do I Prepare For The Blood Test
Before the blood draw, ask your healthcare provider if you should stop taking any medications, vitamins or supplements. Sometimes, certain medications can affect the results of a blood test. Always ask your provider before stopping any medication.
You may need to stop eating or drinking before a blood test. Ask your healthcare provider in advance if you should fast before the test.
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Enzyme That Indicates Heart Damage
Enzymes are substances the body makes to speed up certain chemical reactions.
After the heart is injured, Ballantyne says, it releases particular enzymes that doctors can test for to confirm the presence of heart damage.
The enzymes that are measured to see if a person is having a heart attack are called troponin T and troponin I .
What was really surprising was we got additional information adding the two types of troponin together. You could have a fairly small panel of these tests to get a very good risk assessment, he said.
Troponin levels are normally so low that they cant be detected, so a positive troponin test typically means the heart has been injured, Ballantyne notes.
The high-sensitivity troponin I test can detect low levels of this enzyme. Researchers said that was associated with a significantly higher risk of cardiovascular disease even years later.
Any heart damage can cause elevated troponin levels, Dr. Aidan R. Raney, an interventional cardiologist with St. Joseph Hospital in California, told Healthline. As a cardiologist, we usually use these to evaluate for heart attacks caused by coronary disease.
Ballantyne notes the test is already approved in Europe to evaluate the risk of future cardiovascular events.
Its not being used in the U.S. now, but weve had some very exciting data, especially regarding heart failure, he said. I think the potential for heart failure prevention is very exciting.
What To Expect On The Date Of The Cardiac Blood Tests
Youll check in at the medical office or lab that draws blood for testing. Some places require appointments, while others work on a first-come, first-served basis. The person collecting your blood sample may ask you if youve been fasting for nine to 12 hours, which means having nothing but water during that time.
Before taking your blood sample
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How Could This Study Be Used To Improve Heart Disease Detection
This study aims to identify surrogate proteins in our body, which may help to enhance identifications of mechanisms for heart disease and aid development of treatment options, said Dwivedi.
According to the initial research, this blood test may be twice as accurate as other methods of testing whether or not a person is at risk for a cardiac event.
If the blood test results are found to hold up in wider studies, this information could potentially be used to predict and treat heart attacks much quicker. Additionally, it could potentially help speed up the development of new cardiovascular drugs.
Currently, the test is being used in four healthcare systems within the United States.
If such data pan out, over a course of time, this may aid in our understanding of cardiovascular disease, as well as development of treatment options to treat it, said Dwivedi.
The results that the researchers found ended up being twice as accurate as existing methods of detection, which evaluate several factors like age, sex, medical history, blood pressure, etc.
Risk Factors And Symptoms
Risk factors for cardiomyopathy and heart failure include a family history of coronary artery disease, a previous heart attack, excessive alcohol consumption, drug abuse, and obesity. Certain conditions can also increase risk, including high blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid disorders, a buildup of iron in the heart muscle, and sarcoidosis, which causes inflammation in the bodys organs. Cancer treatments, including radiation and certain types of chemotherapy, may also increase a persons risk.
In its earliest stages, cardiomyopathy and heart failure may not cause noticeable symptoms. However, as the condition progresses, a person may experience fatigue or shortness of breath, especially with physical exertion. They may also have swelling of the legs, feet, and abdomen, which occurs when the body overproduces fluid in response to a reduction in blood pumped from the heart. Other symptoms include heart palpitations or lightheadedness caused by irregular heartbeats, or arrhythmias.
What Happens During The Test
Itâs a lot like any other blood test.
Your doctor uses a thin needle to take a small amount of blood, most likely from your arm near your elbow. Youâll feel a pinch or sting when the needle goes in, but thatâs usually all.
It only takes a few minutes. You can get your results quickly since these tests usually are urgent. Your doctor may do the same enzyme tests over time to see how your levels change.
What Do I Do If I Have A Heart Attack
After a heart attack, you need quick treatment to open the blocked artery and lessen the damage. At the first signs of a heart attack, call 911. The best time to treat a heart attack is within 1 or 2 hours after symptoms begin. Waiting longer means more damage to your heart and a lower chance of survival.
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Other Consequences Of Blood Type
People with type O blood enjoy a slightly lower risk of heart disease and blood clotting, but they may be more susceptible to hemorrhaging or bleeding disorders. This may be especially true after childbirth, according to a study on postpartum blood loss, which found an increased risk in women with type O blood.
People with type O blood may also fare worse after a traumatic injury due to increased blood loss, according to a study .
Other research has found people with type AB blood might be at an increased risk for cognitive impairment when compared to people with type O. Cognitive impairment includes things like trouble remembering, focusing or making decisions.
What Blood Tests Indicate Heart Problems
Blood tests that indicate heart problems include:
- Troponin is the most common test after a heart attack. An increased level of troponin protein in your blood has been linked with the amount of heart damage following a heart attack and a higher risk of heart disease in people who have no symptoms.
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Why The Test Is Performed
The most common reason to perform this test is to see if a heart attack has occurred. Your health care provider will order this test if you have chest pain and other signs of a heart attack. The test is usually repeated two more times over the next 6 to 24 hours.
Your provider may also order this test if you have angina that is getting worse, but no other signs of a heart attack.
The troponin test may also be done to help detect and evaluate other causes of heart injury.
Complications From A Heart Attack
Potential complications from a heart attack can vary widely. They can range from mild to life-threatening.
Some people experience a “minor” heart attack with no associated complications. This is also known as an uncomplicated heart attack.
Other people experience a major heart attack, which has a wide range of potential complications. This may require extensive treatment.
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Coronary Catheterization And Angiogram
In coronary catheterization and angiogram, your doctor uses X-ray images taken in real time to create cross-sectional images of the heart. This enables the doctor to determine how well the heart is pumping blood to the rest of the body and to view any blockages in the blood vessels.
After you are given local anesthesia and a sedative, your doctor guides a small, hollow tube called a catheter into a puncture in a vein in the arm or groin. He or she advances it through the aorta, the bodys largest artery, to the heart.
An X-ray instrument called a fluoroscope is inserted into the catheter and led to the heart to provide live X-rays of the hearts chambers. Your doctor also injects a contrast agent into the catheter to highlight any blockages.
What Is Lab Testing
These tests are a valuable tool to help your doctor diagnose, monitor and treat various health conditions, including heart disease.
Lab testing can:
- Check your electrolyte levels, which include sodium, magnesium and potassium. Abnormal electrolyte levels can help doctors detect kidney, heart and liver disease.
- Let your doctor know how certain medications, especially diuretics and some heart pills, are working
- Check for enzymes, which are released into the blood when cells are damaged. Some enzymes, such as creatine kinase , lactate dehydrogenase and Troponin T , are helpful in detecting heart muscle damage caused by a heart attack.
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Tips For Heart Attack Prevention
The goal after your heart attack is to keep your heart healthy and lower your risk of having another heart attack. Take your medications as directed, make healthy lifestyle changes, see your doctor for regular heart checkups, and consider a cardiac rehabilitation program.
Why do I need to take drugs after a heart attack?
You might take certain drugs after a heart attack to:
- Prevent blood clots
- Prevent plaques by lowering cholesterol
Know the names of your medications, what theyâre used for, and when you need to take them. Go over your medications with your doctor or nurse. Keep a list of all your medications, and take it to each of your doctor visits. If you have questions about them, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
It sounds like a no-brainer, but don’t skip your medications. Many people don’t take their medications the way their doctor told them to. Figure out what keeps you from taking your medicine — it could be side effects, cost, or forgetfulness — and ask your doctor for help.
What lifestyle changes are needed after a heart attack?
To keep heart disease from getting worse and to head off another heart attack, follow your doctor’s advice. You might need to change your lifestyle. Here are some changes you can make that can cut your risk and put you on the path to a healthier life:
Why should I take part in cardiac rehabilitation?
How To Keep Your Heart Safe During Winter
Stay warm to protect yourself from cold weather. Dressing in layers allows you to remove layers as you increase your level of activity.
- Avoid excess alcohol consumption and smoking.
- Manage your stress, and engage in hobbies and physical activities like gardening or painting. Try yoga and meditation at home. Take proper sleep at night and regular breaks from work
- Regular exercise, daily exercise for at least 30 minutes per day is important. Avoid exercising outside early in the morning in cold temperatures. Opt for indoor exercises like static cycling, treadmill, yoga etc.
- Improve your diet, and avoid excessive salt and sweets in your diet. Use polyunsaturated cooking oil like safflower oil, and mustard oil. Increase salad and fruits in your diet.
- Take frequent breaks when you are exercising and stay hydrated. Dehydration makes it harder for the body to stay warm, which also makes it easier for blood to clot.
- Maintain a healthy exercise schedule but do not go overboard. In fact, evaluate your heart and body status before attempting anything extreme. Any unaccustomed exercise can put a strain on the heart, triggering a heart attack.
Most cardiologists suggest that older people, those who smoke or drink regularly and those who do not get any regular activity are most at risk. By limiting their exposure to colder temperatures and keeping up a regular amount of daily physical activity, these people may be able to lower their risk of a heart attack in winter.
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