Cardiovascular technologists and technicians help doctors identify and treat cardiac (heart) and vascular (blood vessel) problems.
Cardiovascular technologists and technicians do the following tasks:
- Monitor video screens and gauges
- Measure blood flow rates
- Assess how the heart and its systems are working
- Compare data to healthy heart data
- Answer patient questions
- Convey information to doctors
- Document test results in patient records
Cardiovascular technologists conduct tests on patients' hearts and blood vessels. Some testing procedures require inserting small tubes, called catheters, into patients. Other tests, such as ultrasound, are done externally.
Technologists help prepare patients for these tests and procedures. They explain the tests to patients. If tubes will be inserted, they shave and clean the area where the tubes will go. They apply anesthesia to the skin. They help doctors insert a small tube into the body. They activate the scope and camera that doctors use to guide the tube through the body. During these tests, they monitor patients' blood pressure and watch the heart's activity. They also monitor patients during open heart surgery and other heart procedures.
Technologists who use ultrasound on the heart are called echocardiographers. Ultrasound instruments record how blood vessels are working. The ultrasound wand sends out sound waves and collects the echoes to form an image on a screen. Technologists position the wand so it is over the heart. They adjust the amount and quality of the sound waves to improve the images.
Cardiovascular technicians who conduct electrocardiograms (EKG) tests are called electrocardiograph technicians. An EKG machine traces the rhythm of the heart. To run EKG tests, technicians put electrodes on patients' chests, arms, and legs. They monitor the equipment as the test proceeds.
Some EKG tests are run while patients exercise on a treadmill. Technicians control the speed of the treadmill. They may fit some patients with portable heart monitors. Technicians provide the data from this test to doctors.