Submitted by Dr T on September 25, 2010 – 9:00am
Tests of electrolyte levels, thyroid levels, and other blood tests are frequently done.
An electrocardiogram is necessary to make the diagnosis of PVC’s. Since PVC’s don’t always occur when one is looking for them, several other means have been developed to assess the frequency and severity of the process in some cases. Holter monitors, “heart cards”, and “event monitors” may be useful, and are described in the section on arrhythmias.
An echocardiogram (sonogram of the heart) can assess the function and structure of the heart muscle and it’s valves.
Treadmill testing can be completed to assess not only for the possible presence of blockage of the heart arteries (coronary artery disease), but also to see whether more arrhythmias occur with exercise.
Cardiac catheterization, utilizing catheters to measure the pressures in the heart and inject dye in some of its structures, can be very useful in determining the presence of possible associated heart diseases. This is not a routine part of the evaluation, however.
Electrophysiology testing (EPS) can be very informative in some cases. It can be utilized in certain circumstances where the results of the above tests are unrevealing. These studies are performed in the hospital in a suite similar to a heart cath lab. Catheters are inserted in veins and/or arteries and advanced to the heart where very precise recordings of the electrical activity can be obtained. In some cases, catheters are also used to stimulate the electrical system to see if abnormal beats can be “induced”.