The Great Falls Clinic Heart Center’s philosophy is to be Montana’s regional Heart Center of choice by providing state-of-the art, comprehensive cardiac services to adult and geriatric patients. Our team offers a thoughtful, multi-disciplinary approach to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart disease in order to improve our patient’s quality of life.
Our team currently provides adult cardiology outreach services to Conrad and Havre, Montana.
Structural heart disease refers to conditions that can affect the shape of the heart’s valves, walls or chambers, with abnormalities caused by age, injury, infection or those present at birth. Structural heart procedures provide alternative treatment options that can be equally or more effective, and less invasive than traditional open heart surgery.
The cardiac catheterization procedure is performed to both diagnose heart problems and also to treat previously diagnosed cardiovascular conditions.
During the cardiac catheterization procedure, a catheter (a long thin tube) is inserted in an artery or vein in the groin, neck or arm and moved through your blood vessels to your heart.
Doctors can then do diagnostic tests using the catheter. Some heart disease treatments, such as coronary angioplasty and coronary stenting, are also performed using cardiac catheterization.
Cardiac catheterization is used for testing, and also during treatment for certain heart conditions including:
- Angioplasty - blockages in your blood vessels that could cause chest pain
- Measuring pressure and oxygen levels in your heart
- Checking your hearts pumping function
- Diagnosing congenital heart defects
- Diagnosing heart valve problems
- Treating irregular heart rhythms
The Great Falls Clinic Echocardiography Lab has held national accreditation since 2003 with the ICAEL in Pediatric and Adult Resting and Stress Echocardiography
Echocardiogram: A resting ultrasound evaluation of structure, function, blood flow and pressures within the heart. Images are obtained by placing a transducer at various locations on the chest. This test includes color Doppler evaluation of blood flow.
Stress Echocardiogram: An echocardiogram is done both before and after your heart is stressed either by having you exercise on a treadmill or by injecting a medicine that makes your heart beat harder and faster. A stress echocardiogram is usually done to find out if you might have blockage or decreased blood flow to your heart’s arteries (coronary artery disease, or CAD).
Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE): For this test, the probe is passed down the esophagus instead of being moved over the outside of the chest wall. TEE shows clearer pictures of your heart, because the probe is located closer to the heart and because the lungs and bones of the chest wall do not block the sound waves produced by the probe. A sedative and an anesthetic applied to the throat are used to make you comfortable during this test.
Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG): This is a test that checks for problems with the electrical activity of your heart. Small patches called electrodes are applied to the skin and wires or leads are attached. An EKG translates the heart’s electrical activity into line tracings on paper
Holter Monitor: Electrodes are applied to the skin (similar to the leads used in recording a standard ECG), and are attached to a portable recording device about the size of a deck of cards. While carrying this device in a pouch or on a belt, you will be asked to resume your normal activities while the device records a continuous ECG tracing for 24 or 48 hours. You will be asked to keep a diary of your activities including symptoms.
Event Recorders: Event recorders do not record every heart beat. Instead, event recorders store only approximately 30 seconds of your heart’s rhythm. That is, at any given time while you are wearing it, event recorders will have recorded the most recent 30 seconds of your ECG. When you experience a symptom, you should press a button on the recorder, associating that recording with your symptom. The recording should then be transmitted by telephone to a monitoring center. A major advantage of event recorders is that they can be used for 30 – 60 days, increasing the chances of finding a specific symptom or recording.
Nuclear imaging of the heart uses small, safe doses of radioactive substances (called radioisotopes, radionuclides or tracers), which are injected into the bloodstream, usually as part of a stress test. Radionuclides used for cardiac imaging include technetium (Cardiolite®, Myoview®) – the most commonly used – as well as thallium tracers. This is why a nuclear stress test is sometimes referred to as a “thallium stress test” or “Cardiolite stress test”.
The Pacemaker/ICD Clinic provides comprehensive outpatient surveillance and patient education. Patients receive Pacemaker/ICD analysis and programming, and ICD Interrogation and programming. The Pacemaker/ICD Clinic performs the following services for patients who have had either a Pacemaker, ICD or Loop Recorder implanted:
- Pacemaker Threshold and Sensing Testing
- Automatic Cardioverter Defibrillator Checks (ICD)
- Implantable Loop Recorder Interrogations
- Remote Device Management utilizing the Carelink and Latitude Systems
Arterial Doppler studies utilize Doppler ultrasound to hear and produce images on a monitor for the purpose of evaluating the arterial blood flow to the lower extremities (legs). Through timed inflation and deflation of blood pressure cuffs, the technician is able to demonstrate blocked or reduced blood flow through the major arteries of the legs.