Understanding the Variety of Diagnostics for Heart Concerns

Understanding the Variety of Diagnostics for Heart Concerns

Maybe you’ve noticed chest pain that wasn’t there before. Maybe you felt an irregular heartbeat. Or maybe, you’re worried that your lifestyle puts you at risk of developing heart disease, a condition affecting nearly 50% of American adults.

Whatever your concern, your heart health matters — and you deserve to find answers. Kunal Patel, MD, and our team at NJ Cardiovascular Institute provide comprehensive diagnostics and care for common heart conditions in Elizabeth, Lakewood, Paramus, and Secaucus, New Jersey.

Diagnostic testing evaluates your heart health, giving Dr. Patel the information he needs to reach a diagnosis and develop an appropriate treatment plan. So if you have concerns about your heart health, here’s what you need to know about diagnostic heart tests.

Common heart tests and how they work

Your heart is responsible for pumping blood throughout your body. Any issues within your heart muscles, its valves, or the arteries in your body can limit your heart function and put your health at risk.

As a cardiac specialist, Dr. Patel performs a variety of diagnostic tests to evaluate your heart function and identify heart conditions so you can get the treatment you need. 

The most common diagnostic tests are:

Ankle brachial index (ABI)

Ankle brachial index tests compare the differences in blood pressure between your upper and lower limbs. The test involves measuring your blood pressure at your ankle and in your arm. Dr. Patel uses ABI testing to diagnose peripheral artery disease (PAD) in your legs.


Echocardiogram is a type of ultrasound that creates images of your heart using noninvasive soundwaves. During an echocardiogram, Dr. Patel can see your heart beating and watch blood flow through your heart.

We may order an echocardiogram to evaluate how well your heart muscle and valves function or to identify possible causes of a heart murmur. 

Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)

An electrocardiogram is a diagnostic test that measures the electrical signals in your heart. Dr. Patel uses an EKG to determine if your heart is beating too fast or too slow, and to diagnose changes in your heart’s rhythm.

Holter monitor

A Holter monitor performs ongoing EKG testing. You wear the portable device for a day or more, and it records your heart’s electrical activities. Because it collects data over a longer period of time, a Holter monitor can detect irregular heartbeats that may not show up during an in-office EKG test.

Medical imaging

A handful of medical imaging technologies can provide valuable diagnostic information about your heart health. Dr. Patel may order a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, a CT scan, or X-rays to get a more detailed look at your heart. Both cardiac calcium scoring and pulse volume recording (PVR) tests rely on diagnostic imaging.

Stress test

stress test, or exercise test, measures how hard your heart works when you’re active. Dr. Patel places electrodes on your skin while you walk, run, or bike in the office, and he monitors your heart activity for a set period of time. Stress tests can help him diagnose conditions like irregular heartbeat and coronary artery disease.

What to do if you have heart concerns

If you’re worried about your heart health, schedule an appointment with a cardiac specialist like Dr. Patel. He understands chest pain and common heart symptoms, and our team is dedicated to helping you find answers.

We review your symptoms and perform a physical exam. Based on our findings, we recommend additional testing as needed to confirm your diagnosis.

If you have a chronic heart condition like heart disease, active management is important. Our Heart Smart Program includes routine diagnostic testing to monitor any changes in your heart health, so we can adjust your treatment plan.

Diagnostic testing is the first step to a healthier heart. To find out more about our diagnostic services, call the NJ Cardiovascular Institute office nearest you or send our team a message online.

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