Cardiac Testing

Capital Cardiovascular Specialists PLLC

Board-certified interventional cardiologist Dr. Shawn Howell offers advanced diagnostic cardiac testing on site for your convenience. Our metro DC offices are equipped with the latest technology so you can go straight from the exam room to have your diagnostic procedure done without having to schedule another appointment.

If Dr. Howell suspects you’re suffering from cardiac arrhythmia, endocarditis, congestive heart failure, or any other heart-related condition, cardiac testing will help her diagnose your condition and determine your individualized treatment plan.

At Capital Cardiovascular Specialists, we offer the following on-site cardiac testing:

Stress Test

A stress test for heart disease provides information about how the heart responds to physical exertion. It determines the amount of stress the heart can manage before developing either an abnormal rhythm or signs that there is not enough blood flow to the heart muscle.

During the test, you will walk on a treadmill at increasing levels of difficulty. Your heart rate and blood pressure will be monitored, while an ECG (electrocardiogram) will measure the electrical activity of your heart.

To prepare for the test, you should:

  • Do not eat or drink any caffeinated products (chocolate, coffee, tea, soda) or caffeinated medications (diet pills, Excedrin, Anacin) for 12 hours before the test.
  • Do not eat or drink anything 6-8 hours before the test.
  • Report all medications and ask if any should not be taken before the test. Some blood pressure medications (beta blockers and calcium channel blockers) can interfere with the test.
  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes for the test, as you will be on a treadmill

Nuclear Stress Test

A nuclear stress test is performed to measure blood flow to your heart when your body is at rest and when your body is working harder due to exercise or medication. The test provides images of damaged heart muscle and areas where there is insufficient blood flow into the heart. A nuclear stress test can also determine if there are blocked or narrowed arteries due to coronary artery disease.

This test is much like an exercise stress test, except you will receive an injection of a small amount of radioactive substance (a tracer) before you complete the exercise portion of your test. After a short wait for the tracer to circulate, pictures are taken of your heart at rest. You will then complete the treadmill test and another set of pictures will be taken and compared to the first to look for any changes in circulation.

Doppler Ultrasound

Doppler ultrasound is a painless test that uses high-frequency sound waves to image blood vessels and measure the flow of blood within the heart, veins, and arteries. It can also evaluate valve movement, helping to detect blockages.

An arterial ultrasound can screen for stroke, peripheral artery disease of the legs, and aortic aneurysm, a common and potentially fatal disease. Venous ultrasound is useful for identifying clots (deep vein thrombosis), varicose veins, and chronic venous insufficiency.

This non-invasive test does not require needles or anesthesia, and no special preparation is required.


An echocardiogram is an ultrasound of the heart. Because it shows a detailed moving picture of the heart, it is useful for assessing how the heart pumps. It is also used to evaluate the heart valves and blood flow through the valves.

An echocardiogram is commonly used to check for heart murmurs and heart disease and to evaluate the heart functioning of people that have had heart attacks. No special preparation is required.


An electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) measures the heart's electrical activity to determine if the heart is beating normally. It may be used for people with chest pain, heart palpitations, or suspected heart disease. It may also be used to evaluate the effect of a pacemaker or heart-regulating medication.

For quality cardiac care with a personal touch, call Capital Cardiovascular Specialists at (202) 466-3000. You may also request an appointment online at one of our offices in Clinton, MD or Washington, DC.

American College Cardiology American Heart Association American Society of Nuclear Cardiology American Board of Internal Medicine