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Coronary Artery Disease Diagnosis

To diagnose CAD, your doctor will review your personal history, perform a physical exam and look at the results of blood tests. Other tests that your doctor could use include:

  • Chest X-ray is a non-invasive test that takes pictures of the heart and lungs; these can help the doctor determine if there’s a problem that might cause chest pain.
     
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) is a simple non-invasive test that can be done in the doctor’s office using small adhesive pads called electrodes that are placed on the arms, legs, and chest. These electrodes are connected to a machine that detects and prints out the heart's electrical impulses, giving a 10-second snapshot of what the heart is doing right at that moment.
  • Stress testing is used to evaluate the heart’s response to physical exercise or simulated exercise using certain drugs and radioisotopes.
     
  • 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.
     
  • Coronary CT angiography is used to assess a person’s blood flow. During this test, dye (contrast material) is injected into the blood vessels and a CT (computed tomography) scan is used to take pictures of the blood as it flows to the heart.
     
  • Echocardiogram is a non-invasive test using ultrasound (sound waves) and a device called a transducer—which is placed on the surface of the chest—to create a moving picture of the heart. It shows the size and shape of the heart chambers, including any damage to the heart muscle due to coronary artery disease.