In the Chest Pain Center, we will initially perform cardiac marker (or lab) tests every three hours along with other tests such as EKGs.
Cardiac enzymes are substances that are released into the bloodstream when the heart muscle is damaged. By taking a blood sample, the level of these enzymes can be measured in a laboratory to help diagnose a heart attack or cardiac event.
The most useful laboratory tests in making a determination of heart muscle damage include:
- Creatine kinase (CK)
- Myoglobin (Mb)
An electrocardiogram, abbreviated as EKG or ECG, is a test that measures the electrical activity of the heartbeat. With each beat, an electrical impulse or "wave" travels through the heart. An EKG provides information about your heart's rate and rhythm; it can also help diagnose a heart condition.
To perform the test, 12 sensing electrodes are placed on the skin of your arms, chest and legs. Wires are then attached to the electrodes and to a monitor. The monitor displays your heart's electrical activity and records it on paper, providing a printout for your physician to evaluate.
Your physician may ask for an X-ray of your chest or abdomen to see if there may be something different causing your chest pain. An X-ray is a photograph taken that shows bones and organs, including your heart. This may enable your physician to tell if your heart is enlarged or if there is another condition causing your chest pain.
Cardiac Stress Test
A cardiac stress test is also called an exercise test or treadmill test. This may or may not include nuclear imaging, depending on your health history. This test may help your caregiver see how well your heart works during exercise, a form of body stress. The longer you exercise, the harder your body needs to work. Your heart must work double time to pump more blood to supply the body with more oxygen. A cardiac stress test is usually done to check for blockages in the arteries of your heart. It will also tell caregivers the type and level of exercise that will be best for you.
Your health care provider may ask you to have a cardiac stress test to:
- Check how your heart works during exercise after having a heart attack or heart surgery
- Check if you are at risk of having a heart attack
- Check if you have heart disease or arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats)
- Find the cause of heart-related symptoms, such as chest pain or shortness of breath
- Set a safe level for an exercise program that you may need
Your doctor may ask you to have a cardiac stress test done as soon as possible. Heart-related symptoms, such as chest pain or shortness of breath, felt more often may make the test urgent.
A cardiac stress test can be done in a clinic, a doctor's office or in a hospital. You are asked to exercise using a stationary bicycle or a treadmill. While you are walking or jogging, the activity of your heart is being watched on a monitor. An electrocardiogram will be done several times during the stress test. Your breathing, blood pressure and heart rate will also be checked during the test.