At Mecklenburg Heart Specialists we are dedicated to providing state of the art technology in a comfortable, friendly environment. Our doctors and staff have extensive experience in the evaluation and treatment of cardiovascular diseases. In the following tabs you will find discussions of the various services provided through Mecklenburg Heart Specialists. In addition to this information, we invite you to ask any questions you might have so that you will be fully informed during your evaluation and treatment. Assuring your comfort and peace of mind is our goal!
At Mecklenburg Heart Specialists we offer a complete range of cardiovascular ultrasound designed to give us a non-invasive look at your heart and blood vessels. We offer echocardiography, which utilizes sound waves to visualize the heart muscle and valvular structures to help detect functional, structural, and congenital problems with your heart. Vascular ultrasound allows us to look for atherosclerotic narrowings of the blood vessels in your neck, abdomen, and extremities. These tests are painless and do not involve exposure to radiation.
Our Nuclear Medicine department offers us the ability to evaluate the blood flow to your heart, as well as the performance of the heart muscle. In conjunction with either a treadmill or chemical stress test, these tests give us valuable information that helps to diagnose and evaluate any potential blockages of your coronary arteries During a nuclear stress test you will have an IV placed in your vein to allow administration of a small amount of nuclear tracer material. The test will take several hours to complete. These tests are done in the fasting state, so we ask that you not eat after midnight prior to your test. Your doctor may also order a gated heart scan to evaluate the pumping strength of your heart.
Treadmill stress testing is a vital tool in the evaluation of chest pain, shortness of breath, and arrhythmias. During a stress test you will be asked to walk on the treadmill starting at a very slow speed. Every three minutes the treadmill will speed up and get steeper. Everyone's exercise capacity is different, and we simply ask that you do your best. The treadmill may be done in conjunction with an echocardiogram or nuclear scan for more detailed evaluation. Please be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and clothes. For those who are unable to walk well, stress testing can be performed chemically.
The human heart rhythm is regulated by an electrical current in the heart muscle, and the normal controlling mechanism can occasionally malfunction, causing extra heart beats, fast heart rates, or very slow rhythms. While frequently benign, these electrical abnormalities can sometimes cause significant symptoms or dangerous situations such as passing out, chest pain, dizziness, shortness of breath, or even sudden death. In order to evaluate your rhythm, your doctor may order a Holter monitor, which records 24 hours of information. For those patients with less frequent arrhythmias, more prolonged monitoring for weeks or even months is possible utilizing loop monitors, event monitors, or even a monitor implanted under the skin.
During the course of your evaluation, your doctor may suggest cardiac catheterization for more detailed evaluation of your coronary arteries, heart muscle function, valvular function, or extremity blood vessels. Catheterization is performed in the hospital, and requires placement of a small tube in your blood vessel either in the arm or leg under local anesthesia. During the procedure, angiogram dye is used to visualize the various structures with the aid of flouroscopy, and pressures are recorded. The procedure may take from 20 minutes to several hours. If significant artery blockages are found, they are frequently treated at the same time. You may be required to stay in the hospital overnight if stents are placed. Sedation is administered as necessary to assure your comfort.
Permanent pacemakers are intelligent devices that are indicated for the treatment of slow heart rhythms that frequently lead to dizziness or passing out (syncope). Pacemakers are generally inserted under the skin on the chest wall just below the collarbone. The pacing wires are threaded through the large vein under the collarbone into the chambers of the heart using fluorscopy. A small incision is then made in the skin, and a pocket is created to house the pacer and wires. The pocket is usually closed with absorbable sutures under the skin. You will stay in the hospital overnight, and the incision is usually well healed within 7-10 days. Once the incision is healed, you may return to full activity, usually with no restrictionsPace. Today's pacemaker batteries often last for 10 years or longer.