Cardiac Diagnosis

In Maryland, University of Maryland Physicians Care for the Most Heart Surgery Patients - University of Maryland Medical Center

At the University of Maryland Heart and Vascular Center, we see a high number of patients every year, giving us a depth of experience and expertise in diagnosing heart disease. Our heart specialists use the most advanced diagnostic technology to find the correct diagnosis for each patient.

Heart disease can be challenging to diagnose because symptoms of different heart conditions can be similar to each other. Our team has the capabilities and resources to get you an accurate diagnosis, so we can plan an effective treatment. Meet our team.

Watch cardiologist Mark Vesely, MD, explain how your heart functions similarly to a house:

Heart Disease Diagnosis at the University of Maryland

An accurate diagnosis is the first step to treatment. Once we have confirmed your specific condition, we can begin tailoring your care plan. Diagnostic procedures are also used during treatment and recovery to determine if your treatment is working.

Heart Tests We Perform

We will often begin your diagnosis with:

  • Reviewing your medical and family history
  • Asking you about your symptoms
  • Performing a physical exam

Diagnostic tests and evaluations available at the Heart Center include:

  • Angiography: A type of X-ray where we inject dye into the coronary arteries in order to study blood circulation.
  • Aortogram: This is a special set of X-ray images taken while we inject dye into the aorta. It identifies the location and extent of the aneurysm as well as any branch arteries of the aorta that are involved.
  • Cardiac catheterization: A diagnostic procedure in which we insert a tiny, hollow tube (catheter) into an artery in the leg or arm in order to determine the location and severity of blockages.
  • Chest CT (computed tomography): A type of X-ray procedure that shows structures in your heart and coronary arteries including calcium build up in more detail than a standard X-ray.
  • Chest X-ray: A general noninvasive test that takes an X-ray of your heart and lungs. 
  • Coronary calcium scoring/heart scan: A noninvasive test using a computed tomography (CT) machine that can detect calcium build up in your coronary arteries and can help evaluate your risk of heart disease.
  • Echocardiography: This test uses sound waves to study of the motion of the heart's chambers and valves.
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG): A routine test that records the electrical activity of the heart, shows abnormal rhythms (arrhythmias or dysrhythmias), and enlargement or damage to the heart muscle. 
  • Electrophysiology studies: A test in which we place insulated electric catheters inside the heart to study and treat disorders involving the heart's electrical system.
  • Exercise stress tests (treadmill tests): A test that monitors you while you walk on a treadmill to see if exercise brings on changes to the ECG.
  • Holter monitor: You wear a small, portable, battery-powered ECG machine to record ECGs on tape over a period of 24-48 hours. You then return the monitor to the doctor's office so we can read and evaluate the tape.
  • Event Recorder: This an ultraportable digital machine that is attached to your chest via an electrical lead that can record your heart rhythm for extended durations (e.g 30 days)
  • Implantable heart monitoring: Similar to a Holter monitor, but the monitor is implanted under your skin. The monitor identifies and records any arrhythmias in people who pass out, mainly looking for slow heart rates (bradycardias) or rapid heart rates (tachycardias). It can record for up to two years, if needed. 
  • Intravascular coronary ultrasound (IVUS): A combination of echocardiography and a cardiac catheterization. This test lets doctors look inside your blood vessels. This is rarely done on its own and typically when we are performing an angioplasty
  • Cardiac Magnetic resonance Imaging (CMR): This is a specialized type of study that does not involve radiation and uses magnetic fields to examine heart function. It may involve injection of a contrast agent called gadolinium.
  • Magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA): This test is similar to a cardiac MR in that it uses magnetic fields but is dedicated to looking at blood vessels.
  • Nuclear heart scan: This test uses a small amount of radioactive tracer to detect heart abnormalities.
  • Rubidium PET/CT scanning: This technology uses positron radiation to obtain information about your heart’s anatomy and function.
  • Tilt table test: We perform this test while you are connected to ECG and blood pressure monitors and strapped to a table that tilts. This test is used to determine if you are prone to sudden drops in blood pressure or slow pulse rates.
  • Transradial cardiac catheterization: This is a less invasive, lower-risk catheterization option because we perform the procedure through the wrist, rather than the groin.
  • Transesophageal echocardiography: Like standard echocardiography, transesophageal echocardiography uses sound waves to produce an image of the heart. Unlike standard echocardiography, the sound waves are sent through a tube-like device that we place in your mouth and pass down the throat into the esophagus.

For more information or to make an appointment, please call 1-866-408-6885.