Although telecardiology is not new, the concept is continuously evolving. Healthcare has advanced so much that patients can receive cardiology-related assistance from remote locations. Enjoined with telehealth, having to visit an office for certain procedures is in the past. These medical activities help doctors keep track of their cardiological patients by phone, through video calls, or by the patient using a wearable device.
Telecardiology is one more step in the right direction toward providing top-tier healthcare. With the number of patients with cardiovascular disease continuously rising within an aging population, this helps with the decrease in the number of cardiologists available to see in-office patients.
Telecardiology devices are portable and small. They can quickly be moved from place to place regardless of being mobile or bedridden to make an accurate diagnosis faster than if they had to be seen in the office. Telecardiology has proven successful in the field and helps increase the level and quality of health care while improving costs.
What Types of Studies are Done in Telecardiology?
There are several tests and studies that can be completed through telecardiology. One of the most popular is the echocardiogram, or “echo.” Echos are tests that use soundwaves to produce and view images of the heart.
This test evaluates the heartbeat, the thickness of the walls and heart valve function, and how blood is pumped. It also measures the percentage of blood leaving the heart when it contracts. The stress echo evaluates the heart’s activity during physical activity. The results of this are compared to the baseline echocardiogram. This is a noninvasive procedure that does not require time for recovery.
Another popular test is the coronary CT angiogram, or CTA. CTAs are imaging tests that view and evaluate the arteries supplying blood to the heart. This test is used when diagnosing different heart conditions. During this procedure, a combination of contrast material and CT technology work together to create 3D images.
Physicians can also determine if the artery walls contain plaque. Narrowed blood vessels, blood clots, and aneurysms are also detected through this test. This test is also non-invasive and does not require recovery time.
Additional tests in telecardiology include carotid and venous ultrasounds. The carotid ultrasound uses sound waves to evaluate and determine if the carotid arteries on the sides of the neck are blocked or narrowed. These arteries are important because they deliver blood from the heart to the brain. A transducer is used to generate these images.
The venous ultrasound is used to evaluate leg veins and determine if clots or deep vein thrombosis is present. A duplex ultrasound is used to capture images of the veins. This ultrasound can also identify narrowing blood vessels and tumors.
Electrocardiograms (EKG or ECG) are also administered under telecardiology using a Holter monitor, which is a portable device that records the ECG continuously for 24 to 48 hours. While it is used for short periods, the time can be extended to monitor the heart over longer periods of time to correctly assess and diagnose heart conditions.
The ECG or EKG is used to detect signs of heart disease. The electrical activity of the heart is recorded and evaluated based on blood flow, heart rhythm, and the size of the muscle. This study helps in determining heart attacks.
Why Would a Doctor Recommend an Echo or CTA?
If you have had shortness of breath, swelling in the legs, or chest pains, the physician may order an echo to see if there are any abnormalities present, damage to the heart muscle, or issues with a valve. Due to the advancements in technology, these tests offer clear, 3D pictures of what’s going on inside. Doppler images may also be used to showcase how the blood flows across the heart’s valves.
How to Prepare for These Types of Procedures
Because these procedures are noninvasive and done through telecardiology, each procedure may have a different preparation method. For an echo, there is no special preparation, and regular medication, normal food, and drink are all fine.
Preparation for the CTA is a little different. Most patients are instructed to refrain from eating four hours prior to the scheduled test, in addition to refraining from drinking or eating anything with caffeine for 12 hours prior. Additionally, no exercise should be done on the day of the test.
The venous and carotid ultrasound usually have little to no preparation. Patients may be asked not to have any caffeinated products two hours prior and not smoke.
Results From the Tests
The physician will provide all the information on the tests after they are studied. Technology has come a very long way in helping determine the condition of the heart through telecardiology. If at any time there are indications of the heart in distress, patients will be immediately directed to see a physician.
Hospitals can benefit from using telecardiology as a solution to assist patients in their treatment. General practitioners and specialists can also effectively use telecardiology as they take over once patients have been discharged from the hospital. Additionally, ambulatory visits are lessened with this technology.
Why is this so beneficial? With remote monitoring, physicians and their staff will be able to determine if a patient is following their treatment plan without them having to be physically seen. Patients who are on a telecardiology plan are more accountable for their treatment and are held responsible for not adhering to their guidelines.
For physicians, this helps in alerting them when a condition is becoming serious, and it can also detect symptoms before something serious occurs.
Telecardiology opens the windows of opportunity for patients all over the world to get the treatment they need while providing quality healthcare for everyone. As the future of medicine and health care continues to evolve, telecardiology is a integral part of this movement. At Specialist Direct, our specialists accurately read and interpret telecardiology studies for better results. Contact us for a consultation or information on our services today.