Purpose and Mission
Cardiac technicians, also known as cardiovascular technologists, are healthcare professionals who work with other members of the healthcare team help prepare patients for cardiac procedures, such as electrocardiograms (EKGs) and various kinds of physical stress tests.
These highly trained technicians also validate that all required equipment is ready for use, and prepare patients’ medical histories for cardiologists to review.
Most cardiac technicians are employed by hospitals, larger clinics and cardiology practices, so they often report to a department head or service chief. Before and during any procedures, they are under the direct supervision of the cardiac surgeon.
Senior cardiac technicians often have some supervisory responsibilities, especially training and evaluating administrative and technical staff. Less-experienced cardiovascular technologists typically have few to no direct oversight duties.
Employers typically prefer that cardiac technicians or CVTs have at least an associate’s degree, and many positions today require a bachelor’s degree or even a graduate diploma.
A professional certification in the field is also regarded favorably or even required in some cases.
Responsibilities of a Cardiac Technician / CVT
The primary responsibilities of a cardiac technician include:
- assisting with medical diagnostic procedures and working closely with anaesthetists and surgical teams
- recording the electrical activity of the heart and measuring heart rate
- collecting and identifying blood, urine and other tissue samples from patients
- preparing slides and tissue sections for lab tests
- performing diagnostic tests on tissues and fluids and analysing the chemical constituents of various samples
- helping diagnose diseases by identifying the presence of antibodies and immune response products in samples.
Cardiovascular technologists typically specialize in one of three areas of practice:
- Invasive cardiology
- Cardiac sonography
- Vascular technology/sonography
Typical professional responsibilities for a CVT may include:
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- electrocardiography (ECG) – this involves recording the electrical activity of the heart, and measuring the pattern and rhythm of the heartbeat
- ambulatory monitoring – use of a portable ECG monitor to keep a record of ECG over at least a 24-hour period, and analysing the record with the aid of software
- exercise ECG stress testing – gauging a patient’s cardiac response to exercise with a treadmill or bicycle and an ECG monitor
- pacemaker implant tests – testing and reprogramming a wide variety of implanted cardiac pacemakers
- cardiac catheterisation – this involves monitoring and recording ECG and blood pressure data during interventional procedures
- electrophysiology studies – using sophisticated software to record ECG data inside the heart to diagnose abnormal heart rhythms
- echocardiography – using ultrasound equipment to scan the heart and measuring images of the heart to determine blood flow and valve abnormalities
- cardiac research – medical research into the effects of a wide range of cardiovascular drugs (and other treatment modalities) and diseases.