Cardiovascular Assessments and Diagnostic Tools

The human heart, a vital organ crucial for sustaining life, beats approximately 115,000 times a day and pumps 1,500-2,000 gallons (5600-7,500 litres) of blood throughout the body daily.

Cardiovascular diseases, which encompass various conditions affecting the heart and blood vessels, can pose significant health risks if left undetected or untreated.

Early detection of cardiovascular diseases is crucial as it allows for timely implementation of appropriate lifestyle adjustments or treatments to prevent complications. At Pantai Hospitals, a range of diagnostic and screening procedures are available to detect cardiovascular diseases early.

What Tests Are Used to Diagnose Heart Conditions?

Blood tests

Several blood tests are available to rule out other causes of heart symptoms and measure various levels within the body that may affect the heart. These include full blood count, lipid profile, glucose, urea, and electrolytes.

Cardiac computerised tomography (CT) scan

A cardiac CT scan is a non-invasive alternative to look at the coronary arteries. Similar to an X-ray procedure, it examines the coronary arteries for blockages and abnormalities that impede blood flow, potentially leading to chest pains (angina) or heart attacks

Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

A cardiac MRI is a non-invasive test that employs a magnetic field and radiofrequency waves to generate highly detailed images of your heart and arteries. It is typically requested for individuals with more advanced or complex heart conditions.

Coronary angiogram

A coronary angiogram is a specialised X-ray test that shows whether your coronary arteries are narrowed or obstructed.

Echocardiogram (Echo)

An echocardiogram, commonly known as an “echo,” is a scan that examines the heart’s structure and functions. It is a type of ultrasound scan where a small probe emits high-frequency sound waves that generate echoes upon bouncing off various body parts. The echoes are then picked up by the probe and transformed into a moving image displayed on a monitor during the scan.

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

An electrocardiogram (ECG) is a test that measures the rhythm and electrical activity of the heart. Sensors affixed to the skin are used to detect the electrical signals generated by the heart with each heartbeat.

An ECG is done if your doctor suspects you are experiencing symptoms of:

Additionally, an ECG may be conducted:

  • If you have received a diagnosis of a heart condition or another condition affecting heart function.
  • Before and during the administration of certain medications.

There are three types of ECG:

  • Resting ECG: Conducted while you are lying down in a comfortable position.
  • Stress or exercise ECG: Conducted while you are using an exercise bike or treadmill.
  • Ambulatory ECG: Electrodes are connected to a small portable machine worn around your waist, neck, or shoulder to monitor your heart at home for one or more days.

The type of ECG recommended for you will depend on your symptoms and the suspected heart problem.

Electrophysiology study

Electrophysiology studies (EP studies) are tests conducted to help doctors comprehend the underlying cause of abnormal heart rhythms, known as arrhythmias.

Holter monitor

A Holter monitor is a portable ECG device powered by batteries. It measures and records your heart’s activity for 24 to 48 hours or more, depending on the type of monitoring.

The device is approximately the size of a small camera and is worn around the shoulder, neck, or waist using a strap. It features wires with small discs (electrodes) that adhere to your skin, allowing continuous recording of the ECG.

Implantable loop recorder (ILR)

The implantable loop recorder (ILR) is a subcutaneous monitoring device used for prolonged monitoring of the heart’s electrical activity. It offers continuous data compared to the snapshot of electrical activity provided by ECGs.

Nuclear stress test

A nuclear stress test is an imaging technique that uses radioactive material to show the extent of blood flow into the heart muscle during periods of rest and activity.

During this procedure, a small amount of radioactive substance is injected into the vein and images of the heart are taken.

A nuclear stress test may be required if you have symptoms of heart disease and may be recommended by a cardiologist to diagnose coronary artery disease or develop a suitable treatment plan.

Stress test

A stress test helps a cardiologist determine how well your heart works when it is pumping hard. Stress tests evaluate your heart’s function while you engage in physical activity on a treadmill or stationary bicycle.

Your cardiologist might suggest stress test to:

  • Diagnose coronary artery disease.
  • Identify a potential heart-related cause of symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, or light-headedness.
  • Establish a safe threshold for physical activity.
  • Assess the efficacy of interventions to enhance coronary artery blood flow in individuals with coronary artery disease.
  • Determine the risk of serious heart-related conditions such as a heart attack.

Transoesophageal adult echocardiogram (TEE)

TEE is a test in which an ultrasound probe called a transducer is inserted into the oesophagus to take images of the heart. Compared to standard echocardiograms, TEE can provide clearer images of the ascending aorta, the upper chambers of the heart, and the valves between the upper and lower chambers.

How Are Cardiovascular Diseases Treated?

Treatment for cardiovascular diseases can vary depending on the specific condition and its severity. Here are some common treatment approaches.

Lifestyle changes

Lifestyle changes or modifications include:

  • Adopting a healthy diet low in saturated fats, cholesterol, and sodium.
  • Incorporating regular exercise.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Quitting smoking.
  • Limiting alcohol intake.
  • Managing stress.
  • Getting adequate sleep.
  • Managing other health conditions such as diabetes.


  • Statins and other cholesterol-lowering medications to control cholesterol levels.
  • Blood pressure medications to manage hypertension (high blood pressure).
  • Antiplatelets or anticoagulants to prevent blood clots.
  • Medications to control heart rhythm abnormalities.
  • Medications to reduce symptoms such as chest pain or heart failure.

Procedures and surgeries

In some cases, invasive procedures or surgeries may be necessary, including:

Coronary angioplasty

Coronary angioplasty is also known as percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). During the procedure, a small balloon is inserted into the narrowed artery to push the fatty tissue outwards, facilitating improved blood flow.

Subsequently, a metal stent, typically a wire mesh tube, is often deployed in the artery to maintain its openness. Alternatively, drug-eluting stents may be utilised, which release medications to prevent re-narrowing of the artery.

Learn more about angioplasty.

Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG)

Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG)is also known as bypass surgery, a heart bypass. A blood vessel is grafted between the aorta (the main artery leaving the heart) and a part of the coronary artery beyond the narrowed or blocked area.

In some cases, an artery supplying blood to the chest wall may be redirected to one of the heart arteries. This diversion allows the blood to bypass the narrowed sections of the coronary arteries, restoring adequate blood flow to the heart muscle.

Heart transplant

In cases where the heart is severely damaged, and medication proves ineffective, or when the heart fails to adequately pump blood around the body (heart failure), a heart transplant may be necessary. During a heart transplant, the damaged or malfunctioning heart is replaced with a healthy heart from a donor.

Cardiothoracic Surgery

Cardiothoracic surgery is the medical specialty that treats conditions affecting the organs within the chest cavity, primarily the heart, lungs, and oesophagus. Cardiothoracic surgeons work closely with cardiologists, oncologists, and anaesthesiologists.

Cardiothoracic surgeons perform a range of adult and paediatric heart surgeries, including lung resection, coronary artery bypass surgeries, heart valve surgeries, congenital heart surgeries, heart and lung transplants, and others.

Learn more about cardiothoracic surgery.

Make an Appointment at Pantai Hospitals

A dedicated and expert team of cardiologists at Pantai Hospitals is available for consultation to provide the best care and assistance to patients through heart health screening, diagnosis, and treatment. Get in touch with us to book an appointment with a cardiologist today.

Pantai Hospitals have been accredited by the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH) for its commitment to patient safety and service quality.

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