Female doctors's hands holding red heart

Cardiology

Cardiology is a medical specialty that deals with the study, diagnosis, and treatment of cardiovascular diseases, both acquired or congenital.

A cardiology outpatient clinic is available at UPMC Institute for Health, where specialty consults and diagnostic tests can be conducted.

Specialty consult

A cardiology consult is performed to determine any signs and symptoms of cardiology and/or cardiovascular alterations. It includes a comprehensive medical history, which is essential to assess any clinical risk factors and the overall cardiocirculatory function, and parameters such as arterial pressure, heart rate, and anthropometric data. In addition, the presence of potential edemas and the heart is monitored for murmurs suggestive of valve dysfunctions and/or rhythm alterations suggestive of arrhythmias. The chest auscultation is used to detect any signs of cardiovascular overload or respiratory issues that may affect the activity of the heart.

Cardiology diagnostic tests

Electrocardiogram

This is an outpatient diagnostic test that allows to record and visualize the electrical activity of the heart. By monitoring the electrical signals that precede and follow the contraction and relaxation of the heart, we can detect a heart disease or a rhythm disorder (arrhythmia).

Echocardiogram

This test uses ultrasounds to visualize the anatomy of the heart and its function, and to provide important information on its contractility, on the morphology of the heart valves, and on the blood flow inside the cavities. This is a painless and non-invasive test. It allows to view cardiac abnormalities even at a particularly early stage, integrating the information obtained from the assessment and the EKG and to formulate an appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

Stress test

A stress test is an electrocardiogram (EKG) conducted under physical exertion. During the test, the electrocardiogram and blood pressure are measured while the patient is pedaling a stationary bicycle, with increasing workloads. This test is mostly used to assess potential heart problems under exertion and, therefore, to diagnose a diseases of the coronary arteries (the arteries that supply blood to the heart) or an abnormal blood pressure response to exertion.

Holter monitor

The Holter monitor records the electrical activity of the heart continuously over 24 hours in a painless and non-invasive manner. This is a valuable tool to study cardiac arrhythmias, rhythm alterations, and arrhythmic risk, and to assess the effectiveness of an antiarrhythmic therapy. Electrodes are applied on the patient’s chest and connected to a data recording device positioned on the patient’s belt. The next day, the 24-hour EKG data is stored and downloaded to a computer. The cardiologist can read and interpret the results of the test.

Cardiology