The Medical Center of Aurora seeks to diagnose and treat heart conditions and heart-related health issues in patients early on.

At the Medical Center of Aurora, treating heart disease starts at prevention.

Heart screenings can alert patients to heart and circulatory problems that they may not show any signs or symptoms of. 

Heart and Circulatory Screenings at the Medical Center of Aurora

The Medical Center of Aurora offers heart and circulatory screenings at our facility for conditions such as:

  • Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) — According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 8 million people in the U.S. have some type of peripheral arterial disease. PAD is often the result of a buildup of plaque in the arteries, which can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke.

A screening for PAD is a quick, painless and non-invasive procedure. During the screening, blood pressure cuffs on the arms and ankles are used to find PAD in the lower limbs.

  • Carotid Artery Disease — According to the Society for Vascular Surgery, up to 3% of people over the age of 65 have carotid artery disease (CAD), which is caused by a buildup of cholesterol in the arteries. During a screening for CAD, an ultrasound is used to capture images of blood flow through the narrowed arteries.
  • Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) — AFib (an irregular heartbeat) can increase your risk of stroke, which can lead to congestive heart failure. An electrocardiograph (ECG) is used to screen for an irregular heartbeat.
  • Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) — An aneurysm occurs when the wall of a blood vessel bulges or balloons out, which can cause the bulge to rupture. Health professionals recommend an AAA screening for men between ages 65-75 who are smokers. During the screening, ultrasound technology is used to identify the presence and size of the aneurysm.

Early Detection for Coronary Heart Disease

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the result of coronary artery disease (CAD). Coronary artery disease occurs when there is a buildup of plaque in the coronary arteries, which leads to restricted blood flow to the heart muscle. This could lead to a heart attack.

CHD can be detected early. A Coronary Calcium Scan can reveal CHD, which allows doctors to treat patients and help them reduce their risk of heart attack.

Generally, men over age 45 and women over age 55 should undergo a Coronary Calcium Scan if:

  • They have a family history of heart disease
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Smoke or have a unhealthy lifestyle
  • Have diabetes
  • Are overweight, obese or physically inactive
  • Are taking statins (lipid-lowering medications)

During a Coronary Calcium Scan, X-ray technology is used to capture images of the heart and arteries, in order to examine the calcium deposits. Following the screening, a patient receives what is called an Agatston score, which is determined by the amount of calcium that appears on the scan. A higher Agatston score may indicate a greater risk of developing CHD or having a future cardiac event. A Coronary Calcium Scan may also tell doctors if a patient needs further testing.

Cardiac Stress Test and Nuclear Stress Test

A cardiac stress test is used to see how well your heart works, especially when it is working hard — like during exercise. A cardiac stress test can show if there is reduced blood supply in the arteries that pump blood to the heart.

Doctors may have patients undergo a cardiac stress test in order to:

  • Diagnose coronary artery disease (CAD)
  • Determine a safe level of exercise for patients
  • Check the effectiveness of procedures in patients with CAD
  • Predict a patient’s risk of serious heart-related conditions, such as a heart attack

During a cardiac stress test, doctors monitor a person’s heart rate, breathing, blood pressure and how tired they feel after the test. Healthy people who take the test are at low risk.

A nuclear stress test (also called a Thallium stress test) is similar to a cardiac stress test, but focuses more on the coronary arteries. During the test, patients lie on an X-ray table and are injected with a small dose of radioactive dye (Thallium). The X-ray machine takes photos of the heart and arteries. This type of test may be done following a bypass or angioplasty, in order to evaluate the success of these heart procedures.

Transesophageal Echocardiogram

A transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) uses ultrasound technology (sound waves) to produce detailed pictures of the heart and arteries.

A TEE can provide doctors with more information about the heart’s structure and function than a standard echocardiogram. During the procedure, the patient is given a sedative through an IV. A physician then guides an endoscope into the esophagus in order to take pictures of the heart. A TEE typically lasts between 30 minutes and an hour.

Preventing Heart Disease is Key for Your Health

Heart disease can be prevented. Screenings allow doctors to spot heart conditions in their initial stages and help patients reduce their risk factors for heart disease. For patients who have been diagnosed with a heart problem, the team at the Medical Center of Aurora can aid in determining your best possible treatment options. Talk to your doctor about coronary heart disease and heart health.