Cardiopulmonary | UnityPoint Health Grinnell Regional Medical Center

Cardiopulmonary

Our cardiopulmonary department offers comprehensive respiratory care for patients with asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, cystic fibrosis, lung cancer and other lung-related conditions and disorders.

Qualified respiratory care practitioners staff the medical center 24 hours a day by providing a wide range of therapeutic treatments and diagnostic procedures as directed by physician orders. These specially trained healthcare professionals also provide emergency care to patients who are victims of heart attack, stroke and trauma.

Cardiopulmonary services include oxygen therapy, medication delivery, chest physiotherapy and life-support measures (ventilators) for intensive care patients. Our highly skilled respiratory therapists use the latest technology to provide care for adults and children.

Special diagnostic procedures include Electrocardiogram (ECG) and Pulmonary Function Tests (PFT).

Electrocardiogram

An electrocardiogram (ECG) is a noninvasive test that shows a graphic display of the heart's electrical activity. This test helps a physician evaluate a patient's heart condition and detect disease. The test shows if a heart attack has occurred and what part of the heart was damaged. It also detects decreased supplies of blood and oxygen levels to the heart as well as irregular heartbeats or rhythms.

A physician may order an ECG any time there are questions about the workings of a patient's heart. An ECG may be done when patients are admitted to the hospital as part of a routine physical exam.

What to Expect With An ECG

The technician will place electrodes (a small self-sticking plastic patch) on the patient's arms and legs and six across the chest. The electrodes or sensors are connected to wires called leads, which are connected to the ECG machine. The heart's electrical activity is recorded on a moving strip of paper in the ECG machine. It takes the machine a minute or two to make a record, so the patient will be asked to lie as still as possible.

The patient will not experience any discomfort or pain and no advance preparation is necessary for this test.

Pulmonary Function Tests

Pulmonary function tests are a group of procedures that measure how well the lungs take in and exhale air and how efficiently they transfer oxygen into the blood. The tests can determine the causes of shortness of breath and may help confirm lung diseases, such as asthma, bronchitis or emphysema.

A PFT can help physicians diagnose respiratory diseases that might not be obvious to the doctor or patient. The tests are important since many kinds of lung problems can be successfully treated if detected early. The tests can also measure how quickly a lung disease is progressing, and how serious the disease has become. PFTs also can be used to assess how a patient responds to different treatments.

What To Expect with A PFT

During a comprehensive pulmonary test, patients place a clip over their nose and breathe through their mouth into a tube connected to a spirometer, a machine that measures lung health. Patients inhale deeply, and then exhale as quickly and as forcefully as possible into a tube. The exhale must last at least six seconds for the machine to work properly. Most often, patients repeat this test three times. The best of the three results is considered to be the measure of lung function. The results help physicians decide what treatment to pursue.

The risk is minimal for most people. Physicians are cautious with individuals who have had a recent heart attack or who have certain types of heart disease.

Normal results are based upon a person's age, height and gender. Normal results are expressed as a percentage of the predicted lung capacity. Abnormal results mean that a person's lung capacity is less than the predicted value, signaling some degree of chest or lung disease.

Advanced Preparations

Patients should not eat a heavy meal before the test or smoke for four to six hours before a test is scheduled. The patient's physician will give instructions about whether or not to use specific medications, including bronchodilators or inhalers, before the test. Sometimes, medication may be administered as part of the test.