Angiography: During angiography, a liquid dye that can be seen on an x-ray is injected through a long, thin tube (catheter) that is fed through an artery, usually in the femoral artery in the thigh, to the arteries in the heart. As the dye travels through the arteries, they become visible on the x-ray, showing whether plaque is blocking any arteries and the severity of that blockage.
Blood tests: Blood is drawn to check for abnormal levels of certain fats, cholesterol, sugar, and proteins in the blood that may indicate an increased risk of atherosclerosis. Fasting may be needed before the blood is drawn.
Computed Tomography (CT) scan: A computed tomography (CT) scan creates computer-generated pictures of the heart, brain, or other areas of the body to detect hardening, thickening, and narrowing of large arteries.
Doppler ultrasound: A Doppler ultrasound device measures blood pressure at various points along an arm or leg. It may be used to detect atherosclerotic lesions and measure blood flow and is particularly helpful in detecting pulmonary embolisms (blockages or blood clots in the artery leading to the lungs) or deep vein thromboses (blood clots or blockages in the legs).
Echocardiography: Echocardiography uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the heart. It is used to detect injured heart muscle, an abnormal size and shape of the heart, and to look for defective heart chambers and valves.
Electrocardiogram (EKG): An electrocardiogram (EKG) is a painless procedure that uses electrical signals to test how fast the heart is beating and if the rhythm is normal. An EKG may also provide information about previous or current damage to heart tissue.
Stress testing: During a stress test, the heart is forced to work harder and beat faster by having a patient either exercise or take certain medications. Signs of arteriosclerosis that may occur during a stress test include abnormal changes in heart rate or blood pressure, shortness of breath, chest pain, and abnormal heart rhythms. The heart may be imaged during the procedure to reveal any areas of restricted blood flow.
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