Respiratory Therapists work with patients who suffer from either acute or chronic respiratory problems. They plan, integrate, and evaluate cardiac and pulmonary care and recommend intervention and therapeutic methods.
An echocardiogram uses sound waves to produce images of your heart so your doctor can see how it’s beating and identify any abnormalities. At Margaret Mary, we offer three different types of echocardiograms – transthoracic, Stress and pharmacologic. During a basic transthoracic echo, a technician will spread gel on your chest and press a device firmly against your skin, aiming an ultrasound beam at your heart. A computer converts the results into moving images on a monitor. All results will be forwarded to your doctor who will look for healthy heart valves and chambers, as well as normal heartbeats. A stress echo is much like a transthoracic echo, however the images of your heart will be taken before and immediately after walking on a treadmill. This is done because some heart problems occur only during physical activity. If you are having a stress echo, make sure you wear comfortable shoes for walking. Finally, a pharmacologic echo uses an injection of a medication to make your heart work as hard as if you were exercising. This type of echo is used for people who may have trouble walking on a treadmill. If your results are normal, no further testing may be needed. If the results are concerning, you may be referred to a cardiologist for more tests. Margaret Mary’s Echo Lab is accredited by the Intersocietal Commission for the Accreditation of Echocardiography Laboratories.
Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)
An electrocardiogram records electrical signals generated from the upper right chamber of your heart. This test is used to identify patterns among heartbeats and rhythms to diagnose various heart conditions. During this quick and noninvasive test, you’ll lie on a table and electrodes will be attached to your arms, legs and chest. These electrodes will help detect and conduct the electrical currents of your heart. All results will be sent to your doctor and treatment will depend on what’s causing your signs and symptoms.
Holter Monitor (A form of EKG)
A Holter monitor is a small, wearable device that records your heart rhythm. This test, which takes place over 1-3 days, helps detect irregularities in the heart that could not be detected during a quick EKG. During the test, electrodes that are attached to your chest are connected to a recording device. The monitor should not be taken off and can’t get wet. During the test, you can continue your usual daily activities, but you will be asked to keep a diary of everything you do. Once your monitoring period is over, you’ll go back to your doctor’s office to return the Holter monitor. All test results will be sent to your doctor.
A stress test combines the use of an EKG with physical activity. Because exercise makes your heart pump harder, an exercise stress test can reveal problems in your heart that might not be found otherwise. An exercise stress test involves walking on a treadmill while your heart rhythm, blood pressure and breathing are monitored. Before the test, electrodes, which will be connected to the EKG machine, will be placed on your chest, legs and arms, and a blood pressure cuff will be placed on your arm. At first, you begin walking slowly on the treadmill, but soon its speed and incline will be increased. You continue exercising until your heart rate has reached a set target or until you develop symptoms that don’t allow you to continue. A Stress test is generally safe, and complications are rare. Wear or bring comfortable clothes with you to the test. When finished, you may return to your normal activities.
An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a painless procedure that uses electrodes attached to your scalp to detect electrical activity in your brain. An EEG is used to determine changes in brain activity that may be useful in diagnosing brain disorders, especially epilepsy. You’ll feel little or no discomfort during an EEG.
Pulmonary Function Tests
Pulmonary function tests measure how well the lungs take in and release air and how well they move gases such as oxygen from the atmosphere into the body’s circulation. During the test, you breathe into a mouthpiece that is connected to an instrument called a spirometer. The spirometer records the amount and rate of air you breathe. Pulmonary function tests are done to diagnose certain types of lung disease (especially asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema), measure progress in disease treatment, find the cause of shortness of breath and measure whether exposure to contaminants affects lung function.
Heart Support Groups
As an accredited member of The Christ Hospital Chest Pain Network, MMH partners with The Christ Hospital so patients have support to better manage heart disease. Click here to learn more about available support groups.
For more information on our heart and lung services call (812) 933-5115 or email Kathy Newell.