Through diagnosis and treatment, Cone Health physicians aim to minimize the risk of a major heart event, such as a heart attack. Depending on the symptoms you experience, your primary care physician may refer to a cardiologist for a few different tests. A stress test, one of the most recognizable diagnostic measures, is often used to detect Coronary Heart Disease (CHD). Your doctor is most likely to recommend stress testing if you’ve experienced chest pains, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of limited blood flow to your heart. During stress testing, your physician will either give you medication that makes your heart work harder or ask you to exercise (walk or run on a treadmill or pedal a stationary bike) to make your heart rate increase. As you walk, your provider will monitor your heart for any signs of a problem and create a treatment plan based on the results.
If you’re experiencing an abnormal heart rhythm or are complaining of heart palpitations, dizziness or lightheadedness, Cone Health cardiologists will first monitor your heart for a period of time. Depending on your symptoms, doctors can use a patch applied to the chest with an external monitor to observe your heart for a few days, or they may implant a small device under the skin to monitor your heart for up to three years. The data the monitors provider will help them understand if your heart rhythm is abnormal and if it beats slow or fast. Depending on your results, they may use another test called an electrophysiology study (EP study), which creates a detailed evaluation of the electrical activity in your heart, to find where the abnormal rhythm begins before they determine the best treatment method.
Other forms of testing may include an echocardiogram or ultrasound to examine the valves of the heart. If you or someone around you is experiencing symptoms of a heart attack and/or collapses, call 911 immediately. Quick access to medical attention can make a difference in treatment options and recovery time when it comes to your heart.
Dr. Will Camnitz is a cardiologist at Cone Health Medical Group HeartCare. He completed medical school at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. Dr. Camnitz completed his internal medicine residency and his cardiovascular disease fellowship at the University of Virginia Health System.