Heart imaging services in Aurora
The Medical Center of Aurora (TMCA) diagnoses and treats heart conditions and heart-related health issues in their earliest stages. Heart screenings can alert patients to heart and circulatory problems that may not show any signs or symptoms, but could still pose a threat.
We provide screenings for a variety of conditions, such as:
- Peripheral arterial disease (PAD)
- Carotid artery disease (CAD)
- Atrial fibrillation (AFib)
- Abdominal atrial aneurysm (AAA)
Coronary calcium scans
TMCA offers coronary calcium scans, a simple, non-invasive and inexpensive diagnostic tool that provides physicians and patients with critical information about the potential of future heart complications.
The coronary calcium test uses X-ray technology to capture images of the heart and surrounding arteries allowing our team to see calcium deposits, which appear as bright white spots on the scan.
Calcium can form into plaque, causing buildup in the arteries. Known as coronary heart disease (CHD), this condition can lead to a sudden heart attack. However, CHD can be detected early with a coronary calcium scan and treatment plans can be put into place.
Determining cardiac risk
Anyone can undergo a coronary calcium scan, but you should consider the screening if you:
- Are a man over 45 years old or a woman over 55
- Have a family history of heart disease
- Have high cholesterol or borderline high blood pressure
- Smoke or have an unhealthy lifestyle
- Have diabetes
- Are overweight, obese or are physically inactive
- Are taking statin medications or want to stop taking statin medications
In our cardiac catheterization lab (also called the cath lab), highly trained physicians perform a variety of diagnostic procedures. The cath lab is used to help identify and treat cardiovascular diseases, including coronary artery disease, heart arrhythmias and others.
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 to:
- Diagnose 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 patient’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. It measures the heart’s blood pressure and electrical activity before and after exercise. This type of test may be done following a bypass or angioplasty in order to evaluate the success of these heart procedures.
This test, commonly referred to as a TEE, uses ultrasound technology to take a closer look at the heart valves and chambers. This procedure sometimes precedes a cardioversion to make sure there are no clots in the upper chambers of the heart, which could lead to complications.
Advanced non-invasive vascular imaging
There are a variety of medical examinations to accurately diagnose patients’ vascular conditions. These examinations include:
- Vascular ultrasound – —This non-invasive exam uses high-frequency sound waves to create images to visualize blood vessels, as well as detect the rate of blood flow through blood vessels. Ultrasound imaging can be used to detect blood clots and narrowed blood vessels throughout the body.
- Computed tomography angiography (CTA) – —This is a non-invasive exam that uses CT technology to look at the blood vessels. It is used to evaluate abnormal narrowing or enlargement of blood vessels in the chest, abdomen, pelvis and extremities. Our techniques minimize radiation exposure while providing high-quality diagnostic images.
- Magnetic resonance imaging/angiography – —This is a non-invasive technique that uses magnetic resonance technology (MRI)—not ionizing radiation—to look at blood flow through the blood vessels. MRI techniques can also be used to identify flow and areas of stress in blood vessels that can lead to problems in the future.