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Valvular Heart Disease
Medical Tests & Diagnosis Methods/Tools
Different diagnostic methods which are used to detect valvular heart disease include:
1. Physical Examination: In a physical examination, the doctor listens for murmurs that indicate a narrowed valve. The doctor will also listen to lungs for fluid accumulation. Other physical signs such as swollen ankles, feet and abdomen (edema) are also taken note of by the physician (17).
5. Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG): This noninvasive test is used to measure and record the electrical activity of heart. The recorded electrical activity of heart helps in assessing the irregular heartbeat and signs of a previous heart attack.
6. Cardiac Catherization: In this test a catheter (a thin flexible tube) is threaded into the heart by inserting it through blood vessel in the upper thigh (groin) or neck with the help of x-ray images. The catheter helps in detecting backflow of blood through a valve and also helps in detecting the degree of opening of a valve (whether fully open or partially open).
7. Chest X-ray: A chest x-ray helps in determining the enlarged sections of heart, calcium deposits in heart and fluid accumulation in lungs. An x-ray also helps in detecting a defective valve and severity of the defect.
8. Stress Test: In this test, the patient is asked to carry out certain exercises to make the heart beat faster and imaging is done simultaneously. This test can determine the severity of the valvular disfunction.
9. Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging (Cardiac MRI): In this test a powerful magnet and radio waves are used to create detailed images of the heart to confirm the valve defects and provide detailed information. This information could be useful for the doctor to plan for a surgery and also help in planning the treatment (17).
10. Computed Tomography (CT) Scan: A CT scan uses a series of x-rays to create a detailed image of the heart which can help diagnose valvular heart disease.
11. Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan: In this test a small quantity of radioactive glucose (tracer) is injected through a vein to be tracked by a special camera (positron) and portrays a detailed image of the heart, valves and their functioning (18).
Article by Kona Vishnu, MS
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