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What are some common diagnostic cardiology procedures?

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Common diagnostic cardiology procedures include echocardiograms, stress echocardiograms, coronary computed tomography angiography, electrocardiograms and electrophysiology studies, states Cedars-Sinai. Other diagnostic cardiology procedures include nuclear imaging and transesophageal echocardiography.

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Doctors perform echocardiograms to assess the heart's valves, chambers and pumping function, states MedlinePlus. Sonographers obtain echocardiogram images by placing a transducer on different areas of the patient's chest. Doctors perform transesophageal echocardiograms, which produce more detailed images, by inserting a scope with a transducer down the patient's throat.

Patients undergo stress tests to determine if their hearts receive adequate blood flow during exercise, explains MedlinePlus. During a stress test, the patient may walk on a treadmill or ride a stationary bike. Patients who cannot exercise may receive a medication that simulates exercise by increasing heart rate. Stress tests sometimes use nuclear imaging, which requires injection of a radioactive substance and a special camera, to obtain images of the heart before and after exercise. Alternatively, stress echocardiography uses ultrasound images of the heart.

Coronary computed tomography angiography, or CTA, provides doctors with three-dimensional images of the heart and its arteries, according to Cedars-Sinai. In addition to showing the blood flow through the coronary arteries, coronary CTA identifies weak areas and plaques within the arteries.

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