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Best Physical Therapy's Health Information Library

Here, we have gathered health articles on almost every major subject in healthcare. Please explore, enjoy, and share this free resource provided by Best Physical Therapy

Prenatal Testing

Prenatal testing provides information about your baby's health before he or she is born. Some routine tests during pregnancy also check on your health. At your first prenatal visit, your health care provider will test for a number of things, including problems with your blood, signs of infections, and whether you are immune to rubella (German measles) and chickenpox.

Throughout your pregnancy, your health care provider may suggest a number of other tests, too. Some tests are suggested for all women, such as screenings for gestational diabetes, Down syndrome, and HIV. Other tests might be offered based on your:

  • Age
  • Personal or family medical history
  • Ethnic background
  • Results of routine tests

There are two types of tests:

  • Screening tests are tests that are done to see if you or your baby might have certain problems. They evaluate risk, but do not diagnose problems. If your screening test result is abnormal, it does not mean that there is a problem. It means that more information is needed. Your health care provider can explain what the test results mean and possible next steps. You may need diagnostic testing.
  • Diagnostic tests show whether or not you or your baby have a certain problem.

It is your choice whether or not to get the prenatal tests. You and your health care provider can discuss the risks and benefits of the tests, and what kind of information the tests can give you. Then you can decide which ones are right for you.

Dept. of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health

International Health

The spread of a disease doesn't stop at a country's borders. With more people traveling to other countries and living in crowded cities, it's easier for germs to spread. Infectious diseases that start in one part of the world can quickly reach another. Resistance to medicines such as antbiotics is on the rise. This makes it harder to treat certain diseases. Natural and man-made disasters create refugee populations with immediate and long-term health problems.

Some of the major diseases currently affecting countries around the globe include HIV/AIDS, malaria, Zika, and tuberculosis. Climate change is also an international problem which can affect people's health. Many countries and health organizations are working together and sharing information on these and other health issues.

Heart Health Tests

Heart diseases are the number one killer in the U.S. They are also a major cause of disability. If you do have a heart disease, it is important to find it early, when it is easier to treat. Blood tests and heart health tests can help find heart diseases or identify problems that can lead to heart diseases. There are several different types of heart health tests. Your doctor will decide which test or tests you need, based on your symptoms (if any), risk factors, and medical history.

Cardiac Catheterization

Cardiac catheterization is a medical procedure used to diagnose and treat some heart conditions. For the procedure, your doctor puts a catheter (a long, thin, flexible tube) into a blood vessel in your arm, groin, or neck, and threads it to your heart. The doctor can use the catheter to:

  • Do a coronary angiography. This involves putting a special type of dye in the catheter, so the dye can flow through your bloodstream to your heart. Then your doctor takes x-rays of your heart. The dye allows your doctor to see your coronary arteries on the x-ray, and to check for coronary artery disease (plaque buildup in the arteries).
  • Take samples of blood and heart muscle
  • Do procedures such as minor heart surgery or angioplasty, if your doctor finds that you need it
Cardiac CT Scan

A cardiac CT (computed tomography) scan is a painless imaging test that uses x-rays to take detailed pictures of your heart and its blood vessels. Computers can combine these pictures to create a three-dimensional (3D) model of the whole heart. This test can help doctors detect or evaluate:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • Calcium buildup in the coronary arteries
  • Problems with the aorta
  • Problems with heart function and valves
  • Pericardial diseases

Before you have the test, you get an injection of contrast dye. The dye highlights your heart and blood vessels in the pictures. The CT scanner is a large, tunnel-like machine. You lie still on a table which slides you into the scanner, and the scanner takes the pictures for about 15 minutes.

Cardiac MRI

Cardiac MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is a painless imaging test that uses radio waves, magnets, and a computer to create detailed pictures of your heart. It can help your doctor figure out whether you have heart disease, and if so, how severe it is. A cardiac MRI can also help your doctor decide the best way to treat heart problems such as:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • Heart valve problems
  • Pericarditis
  • Cardiac tumors
  • Damage from a heart attack

The MRI is a large, tunnel-like machine. You lie still on a table which slides you into the MRI machine. The machine makes loud noises as it takes pictures of your heart. It usually takes about 30-90 minutes. Sometimes before the test, you might get an injection of contrast dye. The dye highlights your heart and blood vessels in the pictures.

Chest X-Ray

A chest x-ray creates pictures of the organs and structures inside your chest, such as your heart, lungs, and blood vessels. It can reveal signs of heart failure, as well as lung disorders and other causes of symptoms not related to heart disease.

Coronary Angiography

Coronary angiography (angiogram) is a procedure that uses contrast dye and x-ray pictures to look at the insides of your arteries. It can show whether plaque is blocking your arteries and how severe the blockage is. Doctors use this procedure to diagnose heart diseases after chest pain, sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), or abnormal results from other heart tests such as an EKG or a stress test.

You usually have a cardiac catheterization to get the dye into your coronary arteries. Then you have special x-rays while the dye is flowing through your coronary arteries. The dye lets your doctor study the flow of blood through your heart and blood vessels.

Echocardiography

Echocardiography, or echo, is a painless test that uses sound waves to create moving pictures of your heart. The pictures show the size and shape of your heart. They also show how well your heart's chambers and valves are working. Doctors use an echo to diagnose many different heart problems, and to check how severe they are.

For the test, a technician applies gel to your chest. The gel helps sound waves reach your heart. The technician moves a transducer (wand-like device) around on your chest. The transducer connects to a computer. It transmits ultrasound waves into your chest, and the waves bounce (echo) back. The computer converts the echoes into pictures of your heart.

Electrocardiogram (EKG), (ECG)

An electrocardiogram, also called an ECG or EKG, is a painless test that detects and records your heart's electrical activity. It shows how fast your heart is beating and whether its rhythm is steady or irregular.

An EKG may be part of a routine exam to screen for heart disease. Or you may get it to detect and study heart problems such as heart attacks, arrhythmia, and heart failure.

For the test, you lie still on a table and a nurse or technician attaches electrodes (patches that have sensors) to the skin on your chest, arms, and legs. Wires connect the electrodes to a machine that records your heart's electrical activity.

Stress Testing

Stress testing looks at how your heart works during physical stress. It can help to diagnose coronary artery disease, and to check how severe it is. It can also check for other problems, including heart valve disease and heart failure.

For the test, you exercise (or are given medicine if you are unable to exercise) to make your heart work hard and beat fast. While this is happening, you get an EKG and blood pressure monitoring. Sometimes you may also have an echocardiogram, or other imaging tests such as a nuclear scan. For the nuclear scan, you get an injection of a tracer (a radioactive substance), which travels to your heart. Special cameras detect the energy from the tracer to make pictures of your heart. You have pictures taken after you exercise, and then after you rest.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Older Adult Health

People in the U.S. are living longer than ever before. Many older adults live active and healthy lives. But there's no getting around one thing: as we age, our bodies and minds change. You need to know what to expect. Some changes may just be part of normal aging, while others may be a warning sign of a medical problem. It is important to know the difference, and to let your health care provider know if you have any concerns.

Having a healthy lifestyle can help you to deal with normal aging changes and make the most of your life. This includes healthy eating, regular physical activity, and making mental health a priority.

Uncommon Infant and Newborn Problems

It can be scary when your baby is sick, especially when it is not an everyday problem like a cold or a fever. You may not know whether the problem is serious or how to treat it. If you have concerns about your baby's health, call your health care provider right away.

Learning information about your baby's condition can help ease your worry. Do not be afraid to ask questions about your baby's care. By working together with your health care provider, you make sure that your baby gets the best care possible.