Echocardiograms are obtained by reflecting high-frequency sound waves off various structures of the heart, then translating the reflected waves into two-dimensional images.
Painless and risk-free, it is ideal in situations where x-rays are inappropriate (e.g., for young children or during pregnancy) and is most commonly used for diagnosing conditions that require knowledge of the anatomy of the heart, such as valve disease, hypertrophy, and congenital abnormalities.
Thallium Stress Test
The thallium stress test is useful for patients who cannot tolerate exercise. After thallium has been administered intravenously, a special camera is used to track its uptake in the heart muscle, thus determining the efficiency of the heart.
This procedure can follow a standard exercise test, or the administration of drugs that increase blood flow and thus produce the same effect as physical exertion.
Cardiac Catheterisation and Coronary Angiography
Cardiac catheterisation and coronary angiography is an invasive procedure considered the ‘gold standard’ for diagnosing coronary artery disease. A catheter is advanced into and around the heart through an artery or vein to measure pressures and to locally administer a special dye. This dye allows the production of x-ray movies, or angiograms, which provide an anatomical map of the coronary arteries, showing the location of blocks, their shape and degree of narrowing.