Cardiovascular Diagnostic Testing

Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Early detection, intervention, and lifestyle changes are the best ways to combat heart disease. Dr. P. Phillips Hospital offers several cardiovascular diagnostic tests and procedures that can provide important insights about the heart and blood vessels. This testing is to determine if a person has cardiovascular disease, the type of disease, the severity, and the most effective treatment methods.

Physicians at Dr. P. Phillips Hospital use sophisticated technologies to provide comprehensive detail about the structure and function of the heart and blood vessels. We provide a variety of invasive and non-invasive cardiac tests:

  • Cardiac Catheterization
  • Angiography (Arteriography)
  • Peripheral Vascular Testing
  • Electrocardiography(EKG)
  • Echocardiography (ECG)
  • Stress Testing (Treadmill)
  • Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)
  • Holter Monitoring
  • Tilt Table Testing
  • Cardioversions

Cardiac Catheterization

Dr. P. Phillips Hospital's cardiac catheterization team of experienced health care professionals is here to help patients properly evaluate their cardiac and vascular health conditions. A cardiac catheterization is a procedure used in diagnosis and intervention of heart conditions. It can confirm or exclude a suspected problem, clarify confusing symptoms, or treat a known condition.

A cardiac catheterization is often used to:

  • Evaluate blood flow to and from the heart
  • Measure pressure in the heart
  • Show your heart’s pumping ability
  • Identify any blockages
  • Evaluate your vascular system (blood vessels)

Cardiac catheterization is a non-surgical test in which a small catheter (or hollow tube) is guided through a vein or artery into the heart. This test shows many heart-related problems such as narrowing of the arteries, outside heart size, inside heart chamber size, pumping ability of the heart, ability of the valves to open and close, as well as measurement of the pressures within the heart. Your physician may also recommend injecting a contrast medium (dye) through the catheter to examine your arteries; this is called angiography (or arteriography). This dye makes it easier to view the vessels and heart through the use of an X-ray.

The Cardiac Cath Lab at Dr. P. Phillips Hospital provides non-surgical procedures, such as cardiac catheterization, to assist physicians in diagnosing various peripheral vascular and cardiopulmonary diseases that include:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • Heart valve disease
  • Peripheral vascular disease
  • Cardiomyopathy (weakened heart muscle)
  • Cardiomegaly (enlarged heart)
  • Congenital defects 


Peripheral angioplasty is a non-surgical procedure that opens narrowed or blocked arteries. Peripheral refers to arteries other than those around the heart, such as in the legs, arms, stomach or kidneys. A thin tube, called a catheter, is used to open the artery. The catheter is passed into the narrowed artery with a tiny balloon attached; once the balloon is inflated and the arteries are open, blood can flow normally.

Consult your physician if you have questions about angioplasty or peripheral vascular disease.

The Cardiac Cath Lab at Dr. P. Phillips Hospital provides non-surgical procedures, such as angioplasty, to assist physicians in diagnosing various peripheral vascular and cardiopulmonary diseases, including:

  • Cardiomegaly (enlarged heart)
  • Cardiomyopathy (weakened heart muscle)
  • Congenital defects
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Heart valve disease
  • Peripheral vascular disease
  • The Cardiac Cath Lab is staffed with registered nurses, x-ray and cardiac technologists trained specifically for procedures performed in the Cath Lab.

The Lab is open Monday through Friday 7:00am to 4:00pm and is located on the 1st floor of Dr. P. Phillips Hospital.

To prep for this procedure please do not drink or eat anything after midnight the night before the test.

An angioplasty takes approximately one hour. However, please allow approximately 2 to 3 hours for recovery time. Also, please arrange for transportation home.

Peripheral Vascular Testing

Arteries and veins work to carry blood to and from your heart. There are several tests to examine blood flow in your arms and legs that can tell your physician if there are any blockages or narrow passages in your veins or arteries. If your veins are not working properly, you may be diagnosed with peripheral vascular disease (PVD). If your arteries are not working properly you may be diagnosed with peripheral arterial disease (PAD). Dr. P. Phillips Hospital offers two types of non-invasive peripheral vascular testing methods, including a Venous Doppler and an Ankle Brachial Index.

Venous Doppler

A venous doppler is an ultrasound test that uses sound waves to examine problems with veins and blood flow. A technician, or sonographer, will perform the test by passing a small instrument called a transducer over your arms or legs. The transducer sends sound waves into the body, which are reflected back and recorded. The resulting image can help your doctor determine if your veins are functioning properly.
Veins return blood flow to the heart. When your veins are not working properly, you may be diagnosed with peripheral vascular disease.

Please allow at least one hour for this test to be completed; there is no preparation necessary for this test.

Consult your physician if you have questions about venous doppler testing or peripheral vascular disease.

Ankle Brachial Index (ABI)

An ankle brachial index, or ABI, measures the blood flow in your legs. Your doctor may recommend this test, particularly if you experience leg pain while walking or exercising. Arteries carry blood away from the heart, and an ABI will tell your doctor if the arteries are functioning properly or if you are at risk for peripheral arterial disease (PAD).

This non-invasive test is done by measuring the blood pressure in the arm and at your ankle while you are at rest. The ABI is calculated by dividing the highest blood pressure at the ankle by the highest blood pressure in either arm.

Consult your physician if you have questions about the ankle brachial index or peripheral arterial disease.

Please consult your physician if you have questions about peripheral vascular testing, peripheral vascular disease (PVD) or peripheral arterial disease (PAD).

Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG)

Electrocardiography is a non-invasive procedure that detects your heart's rate and rhythm. An electrocardiogram (known as an ECG or EKG) graphically documents and measures the electrical activity of the heart. It is used to determine if the heart rate and rhythm are normal or if there is heart muscle damage.

Please allow approximately 15 minutes for this test to be completed; no preparation is necessary.

The Cardiovascular Department at Dr. Phillips Hospital provides diagnostic tests, such as electrocardiograms, to assist physicians in diagnosing heart disease. Please consult your physician if you have questions about electrocardiograms (ECG or EKGs) or heart disease.

Holter Monitor

Holter monitoring is a portable electrocardiogram (EKG) that provides a continuous recording of heart rhythm during normal activity. Electrodes placed on your body are connected to the Holter monitor, which you can easily carry with you. You will also receive a diary to record any symptoms that occur while you are wearing the Holter monitor. Your physician can use this information to determine any abnormal heart rhythms or heart muscle damage and if it is related to a certain activity.  Allow approximately 30 minutes for this procedure to be completed and wear comfortable, loose fitting clothes.

Holter monitoring is used to determine how the heart responds to normal activity. Holter monitoring is also used to:

  • Determine how the heart responds to cardiac medication
  • Watch heart rhythms after a heart attack
  • Diagnose an abnormal or dangerous heart rhythm

Consult your physician if you have questions about Holter monitors, heart disease, or heart rhythm problems.


Dr. P. Phillips Hospital offers echocardiography (or echocardiogram) services. Echocardiography is a non-invasive procedure, similar to ultrasound, that shows the valves and chambers of the heart and records how they are working. An echocardiogram uses ultrasound waves that rebound or echo off the heart showing the heart's structure, movement, and blood flow. An echocardiogram may also show abnormalities such as a poorly functioning heart valve or damage to the heart tissue from a heart attack. Echocardiography is especially useful for assessing disorders of the heart valves. It not only allows physicians to evaluate the heart valves, but can also detect abnormalities in the pattern of blood flow.

Consult your physician if you have questions about echocardiograms or heart disease.

Stress Test

Exercise causes your heart to work harder to pump oxygen into your blood and a stress test will show your physician how well your heart works during times of exertion. Your physician may order a stress test to see if you have heart disease, particularly if you have experienced chest pain or extra or unusual heart beats (arrhythmias). Dr. P. Phillips Hospital offers several types of stress tests that involve walking on a treadmill or using medication or a combination of both.

When you have a stress test, you will be asked to walk on a treadmill that slowly increases speed. Your heart is monitored through an electrocardiogram (EKG), which traces the rhythms of your heart as you exercise. A health care professional will be in the room with you to monitor your progress. If you cannot exercise, a medication can be used to make your heart work as if you are exercising. This will be given to you through an IV, and you will be attached to the EKG just as if you were walking. This procedure may be done in conjunction with nuclear imaging of the heart or may be performed as a single procedure.

Please allow approximately 30 minutes to 1 hour for this test to be completed. No preparation necessary for this test; please wear comfortable clothes and running shoes. 

Tilt Table Test

A tilt table test is used to evaluate patients who are fainting for unknown reasons. Fainting (or passing out) is a temporary loss of consciousness when there is insufficient blood flow to the brain. There are a number of reasons a patient might faint, including low blood sugar, abnormal heart rhythms, or low blood pressure.

The tilt table test is conducted on a pivoting table. By securing the patient on his or her back to the tilt table, and then tilting the table upright (head up and feet down), the factors leading to fainting may be simulated. The patient lies on a table which is gradually tilted upright to a 80 or 90 degree angle. The patient's heart rate and blood pressure are monitored carefully throughout the test to evaluate the response to the body’s change of position or ability to pump blood to the brain.

Please allow approximately 2 hours for this test to be completed.

Special Prep: No food or drink after midnight the night before the test. Please consult your physician for instructions regarding medications you are taking.

Consult your physician if you have questions about tilt table tests or heart disease.


Dr. P. Phillips Hospital offers cardioversion services. Cardioversion makes the heart beat normally by passing an electrical shock through the chest to the heart. The single, rapid, high-voltage electric shock causes all the heart muscle cells to stop beating for a moment. This allows the heart to change itself to a normal heart rhythm. Your physician may recommend this procedure if you have an abnormal heart beat (arrhythmia) that cannot be controlled with medication. A machine called a defibrillator is used to give a quick electric shock to your heart and restore it to normal rhythm.

There are three different types of arrhythmias that may require cardioversion:

  • Atrial flutter
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Supraventricular tachycardia

Medications are sometimes given to help the patient relax during the procedure. After the cardioversion and heartbeats are normal, the patient is discharged or may be asked to stay overnight. In addition, the physician may prescribe a medication to help your heart continue to beat normally, and may also prescribe blood thinners.

Consult your physician if you have questions about cardioversion, heart rhythms or heart disease.

Please call 321.841.5724 to schedule your appointment today.