What is the best non invasive heart test?

What are other noninvasive tests?

Some common ones, but not as common as the ECG, include the thallium test, Doppler ultrasonography, the MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), the echocardiogram, and the rarely used chest X ray. All of these tests are generally done in a large clinic or in the outpatient department of a hospital.

In the thallium test, a nonharmful, low level radioactive metal (thallium) is injected into a vein. The heart is then scanned by a device that shows light spots in parts of the heart that have good blood flow. Dark areas (or cold spots) indicate parts of the heart that are not getting enough blood, which is a sign of previous damage to that region of the heart due to blockage of one of the coronary arteries.

Doppler ultrasonography uses sound waves that create electrical impulses that are visible on a screen. It is mainly used now to look for narrowing due to atherosclerosis in the main arteries of the neck (the carotid arteries) that bring blood to the head. The MRI uses radio waves to produce a detailed outline of the heart, the heart’s chambers and the heart valves. It can be very useful in the diagnosis of heart disease, congestive heart failure, valvular disease, some types of congenital heart disease, and other heart problems. The MRI usually takes about thirty minutes.

The echocardiogram, sometimes just called an “echo,” displays sound reflections from structures in the heart and is commonly used to determine how well the heart is functioning. A “stress echo,” like the stress electrocardiogram, can reveal problems with heart function by showing the parts of the heart that have suffered damage, for example, from a previous heart attack.

A chest X ray shows a shadow of your heart and lungs. This is valuable only for specific situations such as an enlarged heart and it is a test that is very seldom used. In most cases chest X rays give little information on common forms of heart disease.


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