There are a series of well-defined steps that your doctor will take to diagnose angina. These include a physical exam, blood tests and a detailed understanding for your personal and family medical history. Your doctor may order special diagnostic tests that evaluate the health of your heart and arteries. These could 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 is causing 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.
- 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.