When diagnosing atherosclerosis, your doctor will take into account your overall health and your family medical history. Your doctor may also order special tests that help to determine the health of your heart and arteries. These could include the following:
- Blood tests can determine your risk for developing atherosclerosis by measuring your cholesterol, blood sugar and lipoprotein levels.
- Ultrasound is a non-invasive test that can show early atherosclerotic plaque formation (even before it is narrowing an artery) in blood vessels such as the neck (carotid) arteries or the aorta.
- Coronary Calcium Score uses a low radiation CT (computed tomography) scan without any injected dye (contrast material) to find plaque in the arteries supplying blood to the heart. The higher the calcium score, the higher the risk of angina, heart attack or other problems.
- Coronary Angiography is a minimally invasive procedure that uses a catheter (a long, thin flexible tube) inserted into a blood vessel in the leg, arm or neck to take pictures of the coronary artery opening. This test allows doctors to measure the size and rate of blood flow through the artery. Contrast dye is used to make it easier to see and evaluate the artery opening.