Visiting your cardiologist on a regular basis is key to a healthy life. Whether you have a chronic heart disease or are just coming in for a checkup, we want to make sure you have all the facts you need to make an educated decision about your health.
An Ankle-Brachial Index Test is an easy way to measure how your blood is flowing throughout your body.
If your cardiologist has diagnosed you with coronary artery disease, chances are good that you will need an angioplasty to restore blood flow through these arteries. Angioplasty is often recommended for those who are experiencing chest pain, or if the blockage increases their chances of having a heart attack.
Cardiac Catheterization (sometimes called coronary angiography) is an invasive test that allows your cardiologist to take pictures of the arteries in the heart using a catheter (long, hollow tube) threaded into the heart through a blood vessel in the leg or sometimes through the arm. This test identifies narrowing’s or blockages in the heart with 100% accuracy and allows your cardiologist to determine the best treatment for your heart disease. Catheterization is also important for evaluating the heart’s pumping function as well as certain heart valve problems.
Cardio-Oncology is where the care of heart conditions and cancer patients meet. Our team has developed a highly specialized Cardio-Oncology clinic to meet your every need. While your cancer has been treated or is in the process of being treated, studies have shown patients can develop cardiac conditions due to chemotheraphy and radiation exposure.
Coronary Intervention (PCI)
Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) is a procedure used to restore blood flow through narrowed or blocked arteries in the heart. Blockages in the coronary arteries are the cause of angina (chest pain and similar symptoms) and ultimately can lead to myocardial infarction (heart attack). PCI involves the insertion of a balloon into the artery which is then inflated to push the buildup of materials against the wall of the artery. Typically, a metal mesh tube called a stent is mounted on the balloon and, once deployed, serves as a scaffolding to hold the artery open at the site of the intervention. The use of drug-eluting stents has reduced the recurrence rate of blockage after a stent to extremely low levels.
Cardioversion is a procedure performed in the hospital with the patient fully sedated. An electric shock is used to convert abnormal heart rhythms such as atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter back to normal. Afterwards, medications are used to keep the heart rhythm normal.
Cardiovascular Diagnostic Center and Dr. Gonzalez offers a clinic devoted to our patients who are taking Coumadin, which is also known as Warfarin or Jantoven. Coumadin is an anticoagulant medication prescribed for patients to reduce the risk of their body forming a blood clot, which can lead to a heart attack, stroke or even death. Patients on Coumadin must have frequent blood tests, called PT/INR, to assure the effect of the blood thinner remains in the desired range.
Chest pain can be a symptom of heart disease, but that's not always the case. Dr. Virginia Gonzalez, your West Monroe, LA cardiologists at Cardiovascular Diagnostic Center, discuss common causes of chest pain.
One of the largest challenges in cardiology is the management of patients with congestive heart failure. CHF patients often require very close attention to medication and diet compliance as well as consideration of procedures that can improve their well-being and/or long term survival. Frequent visits often can avoid unnecessary hospitalizations. Our practice has developed a clinic devoted entirely to the care of CHF patients in order to improve outcomes and quality of life for these patients.
A heart attack, also known as a myocardial infarction, occurs when a blood clot develops at the site of plaque in a coronary artery, suddenly cutting off most or all blood supply to that part of the heart muscle. If the blood supply is not restored quickly, the heart muscle will begin to die due to lack of oxygen. This can cause permanent damage to the heart, and, in worst cases, death. Heart attacks should not be confused with heart failure. Heart failure is typically a chronic, long-standing condition, while heart attacks generally come on suddenly.
Heart disease describes a range of conditions that affect one’s heart. Diseases under the heart disease include blood vessel diseases such as coronary artery disease, heart defects you’re born with or heart rhythm problems, also known as arrhythmias. Also, known as cardiovascular disease, heart disease refers to any condition that involves narrowed or blocked blood vessels leading to chest pain, a stroke or a heart attack.
Cardiovascular Diagnostic Center and Dr. Gonzalez has a state-of-the-art nuclear medicine department where non-invasive tests are performed. A nuclear stress test can determine if your heart muscle is getting the blood supply it needs. After a small amount of radionuclide is injected into your blood, our nuclear camera takes pictures of your heart, a nuclear stress test usually consists of two phases: The first phase includes imaging while you are at rest, and the second phase images are obtained after you exercise on the treadmill. A different approach that does not require exercising is utilized for patients cannot exercise, so that we may obtain the same results. The radioactive material is quickly and safely cleared from your body. You may choose to have this test at any of our four locations as well as in the hospital. The center is the only facility that has double accreditation by ACR and ICANL.
A cardiac ultrasound is a useful non-invasive tool to evaluate the structure and function of the heart and associated vessels and heart valves. The test is performed by a specialty trained technologist, called a sonographer, and is interpreted by our physicians. Echocardiography is fast, painless and helpful for evaluating a wide variety of cardiac abnormalities.
EKGs and Stress Tests
An EKG, also known as an electrocardiogram, measures your heart's activity. EKGs can be administered while you are lying on a table to take a 'snapshot' of your current heart rate, or may be administered as part of a stress test.
In some cases, a nuclear stress test is recommended. This is a great diagnostic tool for checking blood flow to the heart. During this test, a small amount of radioactive tracer is administered into the vein through an IV. Then, a camera is used to detect the tracer and produce images of the heart. This test allows us to determine whether you are getting adequate blood flow to the heart while active.
Holter monitors record your heartbeat as you go about your daily activities. This monitoring helps the doctors evaluate the functioning of your heart. If your physician has ordered a Holter monitor, you will be coming to the office to receive the monitor and keep it for 24 hours. Small painless electrodes will be placed on your chest. They connect to the lightweight recording unit, which attaches to a belt or shoulder strap. You will be asked to follow your normal routine as closely as possible. You will also be asked to keep an accurate diary. This will help the doctor make a diagnosis.
Office consultations performed by Dr. Gonzalez and her Nurse Practitioner initiates the evaluation of your cardiac health /history. A simple office EKG can provide a snapshot of your cardiac status and further testing can be ordered when indicated.
Cardiovascular Diagnostic Center and Dr. Gonzalez provides an arrhythmia clinic to our patients with implanted pacemakers and defibrillators. Our specialized clinics are fully devoted to the treatment, evaluation, and monitoring of heart rhythm conditions. The clinics utilize a computerized database and medical equipment to assure exceptional and advanced patient care. We have the ability to assess appropriate function, test generator, and lead integrity, extract diagnostic information, assess battery status, and determine elective replacement time.
Peripheral Vascular Studies
Cardiovascular Diagnostic Center and Dr. Gonzalez offer both non-invasive procedures for the evaluation and treatment of peripheral arterial disease (PAD). PAD includes blockages in almost any artery of the body besides the heart, Blockages can occur in the legs which result in pain with walking (“claudication”) and in very severe cases, critical limb ischemia (pain at rest and/or non-healing ulcers which may require amputation if not treated). Another important area where blockages can occur is in the carotid arteries in the neck which carry blood to the brain. Untreated blockages in the carotid arteries can lead to a stroke. Both leg and carotid arterial blockages can be assessed in the office with duplex ultrasound –a safe, non-invasive, painless procedure. In some cases, CT angiography (CTA), an additional non-invasive imaging procedure, can more accurately measure arterial blockages.
Tilt Table Testing
A tilt table test is used to evaluate the cause of unexplained fainting or severe lightheadedness. During the test, your blood pressure and heart rate are monitored. You begin by lying flat on a table. The table is then tilted to raise the upper part of your body – stimulating a change in position from lying down to standing up. This test allows doctors to evaluate your body’s cardiovascular response to this change in position.