Departments & Services

Cardio-Pulmonary Services

Matagorda Regional Medical Center provides a full range of CardioPulmonary services. Please select from the menu at the right for additional information.

MRMC offers diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary diseases, including emphysema, chronic bronchitis and asthma, by highly trained and qualified cardio-pulmonary practitioners utilizing pulmonary function diagnostic equipment.

A respiratory care practitioner visits with each patient who has been diagnosed with a cardio-pulmonary disease to ensure understanding and treatment. Successful treatment begins quickly after diagnosis to prevent further progression of the disease.

It is imperative for a patient with a respiratory disorder to immediately quit smoking. In more than 99 percent of diagnosed respiratory disorder cases in patients who smoke, the cause of the disorder is smoking. Because the disease progresses quickly in patients who continue to smoke, it becomes extremely difficult to effectively treat patients.

For additional information on pulmonary diagnosis and disease, please call the Cardio-Pulmonary Department, at 979-241-5950.

Pulmonary Function Tests are a group of tests that measure how well the lungs take in and release air and how well they move gases, such as oxygen, from the atmosphere into the body’s circulation.

Pulmonary function tests are done to:

  • Diagnose certain types of lung disease (especially asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema)
  • Find the cause of shortness of breath
  • Measure whether exposure to contaminants at work affects lung function

It also can be done to:

  • Assess the effect of medication
  • Measure progress in disease treatment

Electroencephalography is a test that helps doctors or cardio-pulmonary practitioners detect problems in the electrical activity of the brain. Brain cells communicate with each other by producing tiny electrical impulses. In an EEG, this faint electrical activity is measured by putting electrodes on the scalp.

The test is performed by an EEG technician. You will be asked to lie on your back on a bed or in a reclining chair. The technician will apply between 16 and 25 flat metal disks (electrodes) in different positions on your scalp. The disks are held in place with a sticky paste. The electrodes are connected by wires to an amplifier and a recording machine. The recording machine converts the electrical impulses into patterns that can be seen on a computer screen, and the electrical activity looks like a series of wavy lines. You will need to lie still with your eyes closed because any movement can alter the results.

You may be asked to do certain things during the recording, such as breathe deeply and rapidly for several minutes or look at a bright flashing light.

Holter Monitoring is a technology that allows for continuous recording of the heart’s electrical activity while you go about your daily activities. This technology helps physicians diagnose abnormal heart rhythms and develop the most effective treatment plan.

An Echocardiogram, often referred to in the medical community as a cardiac ECHO or simply an ECHO, is a sonogram of the heart (it is not abbreviated as ECG, which in medicine usually refers to an electrocardiogram). Also known as a cardiac ultrasound, it uses standard ultrasound techniques to image two-dimensional slices of the heart.

Echocardiography is used to diagnose cardiovascular diseases. In fact, it is one of the most widely used diagnostic tests for heart disease. It can provide a wealth of helpful information, including the size and shape of the heart, its pumping capacity and the location and extent of any damage to its tissues. It is especially useful for assessing diseases of the heart valves. It not only allows doctors to evaluate the heart valves, but it can detect abnormalities in the pattern of blood flow, such as the backward flow of blood through partly closed heart valves, known as regurgitation. By assessing the motion of the heart wall, echocardiography can help detect the presence and assess the severity of coronary artery disease, as well as help determine whether any chest pain is related to heart disease. Echocardiography can also help detect hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The biggest advantage to echocardiography is that it is noninvasive (doesn’t involve breaking the skin or entering body cavities) and has no known risks or side effects.

A Tilt Table Test

mimics the body’s response when it is moved from a horizontal to a vertical position. In the test, the patient is secured with safety straps to a pivoting table and an intravenous (IV) tube is inserted into the patient’s arm. The blood pressure and heart rate are monitored throughout the test.

The test starts with the patient lying on his or her back for 5-10 minutes. The table then is moved quickly to a nearly upright position – a tilt of about 80 degrees. If symptoms do not occur, the patient may be returned to a lying position and drugs that make the heart beat faster are given through the IV. This mimics the action of the body during exercise or stress. If the patient becomes lightheaded or faints with a sudden drop in blood pressure and/or heart rate during this test, it is considered a positive diagnosis of neurocardiogenic syncope. When the table is returned to a horizontal position, consciousness is restored (if the patient has fainted) and the blood pressure and heart rate return to normal.

A Stress Test

Stress Test can be used to test for heart disease. Stress tests are tests performed by a doctor and/or trained technician to determine the amount of stress that your heart can manage before developing either an abnormal rhythm or evidence of ischemia (not enough blood flow to the heart muscle).

The most commonly performed stress test is the exercise stress test.

The most commonly performed stress test is the exercise stress test.

Your doctor uses the stress test to:

  • Determine if there is adequate blood flow to your heart during increasing levels of activity.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of your heart medications to control angina and ischemia.
  • Determine the likelihood of having coronary heart disease and the need for further evaluation.
  • Check the effectiveness of procedures done to improve blood flow within the heart vessels in people with coronary heart disease.
  • Identify abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Help you develop a safe exercise program.

There are many different types of stress tests, including:

  • Treadmill stress test: As long as you can walk and have a normal ECG, this is normally the first stress test performed. You walk on a treadmill while being monitored to see how far you walk and if you develop chest pain or changes in your ECG that suggest that your heart is not getting enough blood.
  • Nuclear stress test: This test helps to determine which parts of the heart are healthy and function normally and which are not. A very small and harmless amount of radioactive substance, called thallium, is injected into the patient. The doctor will use a special camera to identify the rays emitted from the substance within the body; this produces clear pictures of the heart tissue on a monitor. These pictures are done both at rest and after exercise. Using this technique, a less than normal amount of thallium will be seen in those areas of the heart that have a decreased blood supply.

Electrocardiogram (EKG) is a test that measures the electrical activity of the heartbeat. With each beat, an electrical impulse (or “wave”) travels through the heart. This wave causes the muscle to squeeze and pump blood from the heart. A normal heartbeat on ECG will show the timing of the top and lower chambers.

The right and left atria or upper chambers make the first wave, called a P wave — following a flat line when the electrical impulse goes to the bottom chambers. The right and left bottom chambers or ventricles make the next wave called a QRS complex. The final wave, or T wave, represents electrical recovery or return to a resting state for the ventricles.

An ECG gives two major kinds of information. First, by measuring time intervals on the ECG, a doctor can determine how long the electrical wave takes to pass through the heart. Finding out how long a wave takes to travel from one part of the heart to the next shows if the electrical activity is normal or slow, fast or irregular. Second, by measuring the amount of electrical activity passing through the heart muscle, a cardiologist may be able to find out if parts of the heart are too large or are overworked. There’s no pain or risk associated with having an electrocardiogram. When the ECG stickers are removed, there may be some minor discomfort.

Sleep Studies are tests that watch what happens to your body during sleep. The studies are done to find out what is causing your sleep problems. Sleep problems include:

  • Sleep apnea, which is when an adult regularly stops breathing during sleep for 10 seconds or longer. This may be caused by blocked airflow during sleep, such as from narrowed airways. Or it may be caused by a problem with how the brain signals the breathing muscles to work.
  • Problems staying awake, such as narcolepsy.
  • Problems with nighttime behaviors, such as sleepwalking, night terrors, or bed-wetting.
  • Problems sleeping at night (insomnia). This may be caused by stress, depression, hunger, physical discomfort, or other problem.
  • Problems sleeping during the day because you work at night or do rotating shift work. This sleep problem is called shift work sleep disorder.
  • Conditions such as periodic limb movement disorder, which is repeated muscle twitching of the feet, arms or legs during sleep.

Sleep studies can also determine whether you have a problem with your stages of sleep. The two stages of sleep are non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM). Normally, NREM and REM alternate 4 to 5 times during a night’s sleep. A change in this cycle may make it hard for you to sleep soundly.