With each possible medical condition, there are usually a variety of tests that are done to measure symptoms and how well the body copes with the stress that disease places on it. With many heart and circulatory conditions, there is no shortage of tests that are done to gauge how well blood moves about the body. Here are some common conditions and the tests that are used to evaluate them.
Peripheral Artery Disease
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is caused by a blockage in the arteries that restricts the blood flow to the extremities, most often the legs. PAD can be a painful condition; cramping sensations are often felt in the legs while walking (claudication). The most common test to diagnose peripheral artery disease is the ankle brachial test. Blood pressure is measured at the ankle and the wrist, and the two measurements are compared. If the pressure at the ankle is lower, that signals a blockage in the legs. Other tests that can be used to diagnose PAD and related conditions (such as Reynaud’s ) are:
- Blood lipid profile
- Doppler ultrasound
- Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA)
Heart disease , also known as coronary heart disease or coronary artery disease (CAD) is a leading cause of death. Diagnosing heart disease can involve a multitude of tests, as some patients may experience intermittent or nearly undetectable symptoms in the early stages of the disease. In some cases, tests can be performed together, such as an electrocardiogram or a nuclear perfusion study during a stress test. This helps reduce the chances of getting a false reading, compared to doing the tests in isolation. Tests involving physical exertion can also see symptoms that might disappear when a patient is at rest. Here are some of the most common tests used to diagnose CAD:
- Physical exam including an EEG, lab tests, and an X-ray / CT scan
- Stress test
- Nuclear perfusion study
- Electron beam CT scan (EBCT)
- Coronary angiography
Carotid Artery Disease
Carotid artery disease is the narrowing of the arteries in the neck that bring blood to the cerebral cortex of the brain. When atherosclerosis narrows these arteries or a blockage occurs, blood flow to the brain can be reduced or stopped completely, causing a stroke. A warning sign of carotid artery disease are transient ischemic attacks . Many tests are used to confirm carotid artery disease and help decide on a course of treatment. The most common ones are non-invasive procedures that take images of the arteries (like CT scans) or measure blood pressure above and below the neck, such as oculoplethysmography.
- Doppler Ultrasound
- CT Scan and CT Angiography (CTA)
- Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA)
A stroke is caused by an interruption of the blood flow to the brain, whether caused by a clot, a hemorrhage, or some other event. Many strokes are caused by a thrombosis, a blood clot forming around plaques in the blood vessels . These have a slower onset as the narrowing of the blood flow is gradual. Others are caused suddenly, an embolic stroke, with blood flow blocked by particles or debris in the blood from elsewhere in the body. Often the debris is blood clots or pieces of plaque that have broken off. To diagnose a stroke, particularly in emergency settings, CT scans and MRIs are performed. These can show the location and likely immediate cause of the stroke. SPECT and PET scans can monitor blood flow and neuron activity in the brain.
To determine the underlying cause of a stroke and any brain damage that may have resulted from it, a number of other tests can be performed. These tests measure responses to various stimuli, as well as capture images of blood vessels and provide better data about the makeup of the blood. They include:
• Ultrasound and Doppler studies
• ECG, EEG, and echo tests
• Holter monitor (ambulatory ECG)
• Evoked response tests
• Blood tests
Monitoring blood flow can be critical to determining blockages within the blood vessels and diagnosing conditions which can prevent blood from reaching the skin, limbs, or vital organs. Ultrasound is one of the most common tests, along with monitoring blood pressure . Plethysmography measures changes in blood volume in the blood vessels. Different forms of angiography can also be performed, such as on the carotid artery in the neck. Tests to measure blood flow are:
- Doppler ultrasound
- Blood pressure tests
- Carotid phonoangiography
- Digital subtraction angiography
Calcium is one of the most important elements that the body needs. It serves a variety of functions, such as forming bones and teeth and regulating signals within the nervous system. Calcium intake must be carefully balanced, as too much or too little can have detrimental effects. Excess calcium in the blood also contributes to the hardening of plaque deposits. There are two kinds of calcium tests: total calcium and ionized calcium. Total calcium tests measure both free and bound calcium in the body. Ionized calcium tests measure only the free, metabolically active calcium. These tests may also be performed while diagnosing conditions that may have an effect on the calcium in the body, such as kidney stones, neurologic disorders, or blood disorders.
- Blood sample
- Urine sample (timed collections are best)
- Cardiac CT / CAT scans
- Carotid intimal medial thickness scan (CIMT)
- Electron beam CT scan (EBCT)
Heavy metal poisoning / toxicity can be caused by a number of metals that are toxic to the body in great quantities or are have no role in the body, including mercury, cadmium, lead, and arsenic. Not all toxic metals are classified as heavy metals.’ Too much intake of metals used by the body, such as iron and manganese, can also result in metal toxicity. As many symptoms of heavy metal poisoning are non-specific, a thorough patient history is necessary in diagnosing the type and source of the toxic metal.
To test for toxic metals / heavy metal poisoning, a variety of tests on the blood, hair, and urine may be done. Hair and tissue tests, including X-rays, often find metals, such as arsenic, that are removed quickly from the blood and accumulate in other areas of the body.
- Urine tests
- Hair mineral analysis
- Blood tests
- Liver and kidney function tests
Many of the effects of these diseases can be reduced or prevented with oral chelation therapy . Chelation works by binding excess calcium and other elements present in the blood, allowing the body to remove them as waste. This aids the body in clearing plaque buildups in blood vessels; in improving blood circulation; and in removing potentially toxic minerals.
Getting started with chelation therapy is easy to do. Cardio Renew offers a six-week starter program , which can be followed up with a chelation maintenance pack . Essential vitamins are also part of Cardio Renew’s chelation therapy. Learn more about the EDTA chelator in Cardio Renew’s oral chelation therapy !