When your doctor listens to your heart with a stethoscope, one thing they are checking for is any murmuring or clicking sounds, which can be signs of stenosis or regurgitation. Your doctor will also consider any symptoms you mention. If an irregular sound is heard, your doctor may order further tests. Other kinds of tests include those that provide visual images of your heart and valves (chest MRI, coronary angiography, chest X-rays, and echocardiography) as well as tests that show heartbeat patterns (electrocardiography - EKG or ECG).
Gregory R. Giugliano, MD
- interventional cardiology
Location and Office HoursBaystate Medical Center
Springfield, MA 01199
- CIGNA HealthCare
- ConnectiCare of Massachusetts
- Fallon Community Health Plan
- Great-West Healthcare CIGNA
- HMO Blue (BC/BS of MA)
- Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Massachusetts
- Health New England
- Tufts Health Plan
- United Healthcare
- Baystate Medical Center
How is heart valve disease (valvular heart disease) diagnosed?
Piedmont Heart Institute answered
How does the heart muscle itself get oxygen-rich blood?
Discovery Health answered
Coronary arteries are the blood vessels we try to keep clear through healthy eating. Blocked coronary arteries result in a heart attack.
The heart, like any organ, requires blood for oxygen and other nutrients so it can do its work. The heart does not gather oxygen or nutrients from the blood flowing inside it. Instead, it receives blood from coronary arteries that eventually carry blood into the heart muscle. Approximately 4 - 5 percent of the heart's blood output goes to the coronary arteries.
The heart also has veins to collect oxygen-poor blood from the heart muscle. Most major veins of the heart drain into the coronary sinus. The sinus opens into the right atrium.
A blockage in one of the coronary arteries causes coronary artery disease. When a coronary artery is partially blocked, it cannot supply enough blood to the heart muscle. The muscle needs this blood to meet its needs during exertion. If someone with coronary artery disease exerts himself, it causes chest pain. This is from lack of blood and oxygen to part of the heart muscle. The pain is called angina. If the obstruction worsens, a condition called unstable angina can occur. When a coronary artery is completely blocked, meaning no blood or oxygen is getting to the heart muscle, a heart attack occurs. This also causes chest pain and death to the heart muscle served by the blocked artery.
Why is it necessary to “stress” my heart?
If you are having symptoms that suggest you might have a problem with your heart, your cardiologist will need more information to reach a diagnosis, and a stress test is often a good way to get it. A stress test does not mean that you experience worry or anxiety; it simply means that your heart is put to a physical challenge. Here’s why a stress test may be necessary:
When you are taking it easy - resting, sitting in a chair, walking at a leisurely pace - your heart is not working very hard. Even if you have a build-up of cholesterol plaque in the arteries of your heart, you may not experience any problems at a low level of activity, because the heart is getting all the blood it needs to keep up. In fact, a resting electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) may be completely normal.
A stress test raises the bar, using exercise (walking or running on a treadmill or pedaling a stationary bicycle), or special medications, to make the heart beat faster and work harder. Healthy arteries can expand to increase the flow of blood and oxygen when the heart is working hard. But if you have a significant blockage in your heart arteries, they may already be nearly fully expanded, just to keep up with your day-to-day activities. They may not be able to expand even wider to meet the heart’s demands during stress. During a physical challenge, the shortfall in blood flow will cause abnormal changes in the heart that are likely to show up on the stress test.
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