Southeast Houston Cardiology offers a wide range of inpatient and outpatient services for patients with heart disease.
An echocardiogram is an ultrasound of the heart. It offers clear, video images of the beating heart and allows the cardiologist to closely evaluate the health of the organ. The registered cardiac sonographers at Southeast Houston Cardiology perform these tests in a period of twenty to thirty minutes. The technologist applies a small quantity of conductive jelly to the chest wall and than uses a state-of-the-art probe to obtain an array of video images of the heart. The procedure is painless and requires no needles or blood tests
Cardiologists commonly use stress tests to distinguish chest pain related to heart problems from chest pain caused by other ailments such as acid indigestion and inflammation of the chest wall. Depending on the degree of suspicion for heart disease, your ability to exercise and your other related medical problems, the cardiologist may recommend one of several alternative types of stress tests, including treadmill exercise stress testing, chemical stress testing, nuclear stress testing, and stress echocardiogram.
Coronary Care Unit
The cardiologists at Southeast Houston Cardiology acquired special training to monitor and treat critically ill cardiac patients. They admit and care for patients with heart attacks, heart failure, irregular cardiac rhythms and cardiopulmonary arrests on a daily basis in specialized areas of the hospitals called coronary care units.
Ultrasound and Doppler Studies of Lower Extremities
Southeast Houston Cardiology offers two types of vascular ultrasound: venous and arterial. The venous studies employ ultrasound and doppler tests to search for blood clots in the veins of the legs. Detecting these blood clots early is extremely important, because clots in the veins of the legs sometimes dislodge and float into the lung. A blood clot that migrates to the lungs (pulmonary embolism) can be life threatening. Southeast Houston Cardiology also offers arterial imaging of the legs. These studies search for any narrowing or blockage of the arteries supplying blood flow to the legs. Narrowing of the arteries in the legs often results in pain with ambulation called claudication. If our cardiologists detect obstruction of the arteries in the legs, they may recommend medications or further testing to treat the condition.
Ultrasound and Doppler Studies of the Carotid Arteries
This technology allows our cardiologists to image the arteries delivering blood to the brain (carotid arteries). Based on the velocity of the blood flow (doppler imaging) and the appearance of the vessels, our cardiologists can detect narrowing of the arteries. Early detection of arteriosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries) allows doctors to prescribe medications to prevent strokes or surgically widen the vessels supplying blood to the brain.
Enhanced External Counter Pulsation (EECP)
Our cardiologists use enhanced external counter pulsation (EECP) to treat coronary artery disease not amenable to more traditional therapies such as angioplasty and bypass surgery. Enhanced external counter pulsation (EECP) requires a series of office sessions each lasting approximately one hour. Prior to the session our technician wraps inflatable cuffs around the legs and buttocks. With each beat of the heart, the inflatable cuffs fill with air compressing the veins of the legs and increasing blood flow to the heart. During each session the heart gradually accommodates the increased blood flow by opening up previously unused blood vessels. These newly recruited blood vessels tend to remain open and continue functioning even after the treatments are completed, thereby improving blood flow to the heart and decreasing the symptoms associated with coronary artery disease.
Natrecor and Dobutamine Infusions
Cardiologists sometimes use intravenous infusions to help augment heart function in patients with cardiomyopathy. Cardiomyopathy is a medical term describing profound weakness of the heart muscle. This deterioration of the heart muscle may result from prior heart attacks, severe viral illness, hereditary muscle diseases, alcoholism or sometimes no apparent reason at all. These medications help stimulate the heart to pump faster and more forcefully.
Coronary Arteriograms, Angioplasties and Stent Placement
Our cardiologists perform coronary angiograms in the hospital cardiac catheterization laboratories. After sedating the patient with intravenous medication and applying local anesthesia, the cardiologist inserts a tube through the groin and directs a catheter through the tube towards the arteries of the heart. Dye is injected through the catheter into the coronary arteries (blood vessels supplying oxygen and nutrients to the muscle of the heart) and x-ray pictures are taken. The subsequent pictures show any blockages in the coronary arteries.
Percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) or angioplasty describes a procedure cardiologists use to open up blockages in the coronary arteries (arteries delivering blood flow to the muscle of the heart). The goal of angioplasty is to improve blood flow to the muscle of the heart and decrease pain and difficult breathing. Angioplasty also reduces the need for heart surgeries and toxic medications.
A stent is a thin stainless steel mesh that is mounted on the angioplasty balloon and imbedded into the wall of the artery at the time of angioplasty. Prior to the advent of stents the rate of recurrent blockage at the site of angioplasty was 40%. After the discovery and routine use of stents the rate of recurrent blockage has been reduced to 15%. The most recent stents, called drug-eluting stents are specially coated with medications, that prevent blood clots from forming in the coronary artery and further reduce the rate of recurrent blockage at the site of stent placement to about 5%.
Pacemaker Insertion and Care
Cardiologists use pacemakers to control the speed at which the heart pumps in patients prone to abnormally slow heart rates. Modern pacemakers are about two-thirds the size of the average cellular phone and contain a battery, a timing mechanism and wires, which electrically stimulate the heart muscle to contract. Our cardiologists place very sophisticated pacemakers quickly under intravenous sedation. The cardiologist will access the heart through the vein under the collar bone (subclavian vein). The cardiologist then threads two wires through the vein and places them in the appropriate position and then implants the timing mechanism and battery just underneath the skin near the shoulder. After having a pacemaker placed, patients return to our office on a periodic basis to have the battery and timing mechanisms checked. If your battery needs to be changed or your pacemaker does not function properly, we can detect it before a serious problem develops.