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Cardiac ablation is a procedure that can correct heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias). Ablation usually uses long, flexible tubes (catheters) inserted through a vein in your groin and threaded to your heart to correct structural problems in your heart that cause an arrhythmia.

Cardiac ablation works by scarring or destroying tissue in your heart that triggers an abnormal heart rhythm. In some cases, ablation prevents abnormal electrical signals from traveling through your heart and, thus, stops the arrhythmia.

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Cardiac catheterizations are typically performed on patients who experience chest pain, shortness of breath or have had a stress test that revealed a possible cardiac problem. Known as a coronary angiography, a catheterization allows interventional cardiologists to see the arteries of the heart and locate blockages. They perform the procedure by injecting a contrast dye and then inserting a catheter into an artery and threading it through the blood vessels to the heart.

In addition to using catheterizations - both radial and transfemoral - for diagnoses, cardiologists can also treat blockages at the same time. They can perform an angioplasty - inserting a small balloon to widen the artery - or implant stents, small mesh devices to keep the artery walls open.

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Cardioversion is a medical procedure that restores normal heart rhythm in people who have particular types of arrhythmias. It typically involves placing electrodes on the chest that send electric shocks to the heart and is usually done as an outpatient procedure. In some cases, physicians may prescribe medications to address the arrhythmias instead of performing a procedure.

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An implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) is a battery-powered device placed under the skin that continuously monitors your heart rate. It is connected to your heart with thin wires and when it detects an abnormal heart rhythm it delivers an electric shock to restore your normal heartbeat.

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An electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG) is a test that measures the electrical activity of the heart. It can be used to assess for heart attacks and arrhythmias. Its results can also suggest other disorders that affect heart function.

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An echocardiogram uses sound waves to produce images of your heart. This commonly used test allows your doctor to see your heart beating and pumping blood. Your doctor can use the images from an echocardiogram to identify heart disease.

Depending on what information your doctor needs, you may have one of several types of echocardiograms. Each type of echocardiogram has few, if any, risks involved.

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A nuclear stress test measures blood flow to your heart at rest and while your heart is working harder as a result of exertion or medication. The test provides images that can show areas of low blood flow through the heart and damaged heart muscle.

The test usually involves taking two sets of images of your heart — one while you're at rest and another after you heart is stressed, either by exercise or medication.

You may be given a nuclear stress test, which involves injecting a radioactive dye into your bloodstream, if your doctor suspects you have coronary artery disease or if a routine stress test didn't pinpoint the cause of symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath. A nuclear stress test may also be used to guide your treatment if you've been diagnosed with a heart condition.

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A pacemaker insertion is the implantation of a small electronic device that is usually placed in the chest (just below the collarbone) to help regulate slow electrical problems with the heart. A pacemaker may be recommended to ensure that the heartbeat does not slow to a dangerously low rate.

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Preventing heart disease is possible, by recognizing your symptoms and risk factors early.
Our expert cardiologists offer an integrated approach to care, including:

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A transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) is a procedure performed to evaluate your heart and the surrounding structures. The esophagus lies directly behind the heart, allowing for better quality images generally than those obtained from an echocardiogram from the chest wall. It is especially valuable in patients with valve replacements, history of a stroke, or when adequate images cannot be obtained from the chest wall.

To perform a TEE, a small flexible tube containing a small transducer is passed into the esophagus. Prior to the test, the back of your throat will be numbed first with a medication you will swallow, followed by another medication that will be sprayed into your mouth. You will then be given medication intravenously for sedation. All of this is done to make the procedure more comfortable for you.

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A vascular ultrasound is the general term for a non-invasive painless test that uses high-frequency sound waves to image blood vessels including arteries and veins.

Lower extremity venous ultrasound is typically performed if a clot in the vein (deep venous thrombosis or DVT) is suspected. The veins in the legs are compressed and the blood flow is assessed to make sure the vein is not clogged. This test is also used to look for chronic venous insufficiency, or leaky valves in the veins which may cause swelling or edema.

Lower extremity arterial ultrasound may be performed in patients with peripheral artery disease (PAD), particularly for planning an endovascular procedure or surgery. It is also used after the procedure to monitor stents and grafts for signs of the blockage returning ("restenosis"). If a hematoma develops after a catheterization procedure, arterial ultrasound is also used to check the integrity of the arteries and veins in the groin.

A carotid ultrasound is a non-invasive, painless test that uses high-frequency sound waves to image the neck arteries.

Atherosclerosis may occur in the blood vessels in the neck (the "carotid arteries") which supply blood to the brain. This condition is called carotid stenosis and is typically diagnosed using carotid ultrasound. This technique allows us to look for atherosclerotic plaque and to assess whether this plaque is interfering with blood flow to the brain. As the artery narrows, the velocity of the blood flow increases; ultrasound allows us to measure the speed of the blood flow in order to estimate the degree of blockage.

Your doctor may order a carotid ultrasound if a blockage is suspected based on listening to your neck or based on your cardiovascular risk profile. This test should also be performed if you have had a stroke or a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA).

An ultrasound of the abdominal aorta is a non-invasive, painless test that uses high-frequency sound waves to image the "aorta," the main blood vessel leading away from the heart.

When the walls of the abdominal aorta become weak, they may balloon outward If the aorta reaches over 3 centimeters in diameter, it is then called an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). As the aneurysm gets larger, the risk of rupture increases.

Ultrasound imaging of the aorta is useful for measuring its size to screen for AAA. Screening is particularly recommended for men over the age of 60 who have ever smoked and for anyone with a family history of AAA. In addition to screening, ultrasound is also a useful tool after the diagnosis of AAA to monitor its size on a regular basis to see if it needs to be repaired.

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