Several combined symptoms of heart disease can help make a diagnosis certain. Many people, unfortunately, do not know they are experiencing coronary heart disease until they notice symptoms of angina (temporary chest pain or discomfort usually occurring during exertion or emotional stress) or have a heart attack. Some doctors who specialize in heart problems and that may be involved in the diagnosis, treatment or ongoing care of heart disease include:
Doctors begin to identify symptoms by interviewing the person to obtain the medical history. Some information you may be required to present will be about your past health and medical history as well as possible risk factors for heart disease. You might also be also to outline medications you are taking, symptoms or warning signals you had before your heart attack or stroke, your family history of stroke or heart disease (if any).
A medical history is followed by the doctor performing a physical examination. An initial physical exam may include:
Several tests are usually conducted to diagnose possible heart disease. The choice of which (and the number of) tests to perform depends on several variables. These include:
If your doctor suspects that you may have coronary heart disease or coronary heart disease symptoms, or is assessing your risk of possibly developing the disease, he or she will arrange a number of tests. People being evaluated for possible heart disease primarily are usually given simple tests first. Then more complicated ones may follow, if needed. Specific tests are dependent on the patient's particular problem(s) and the results of the physician's assessment. Tests to diagnose heart disease include:
Blood tests - depending upon what diagnosis a doctor suspects, any of the following may be tested:
Transesophogeal echocardiogram (TEE) - This is a special type of echocardiogram that uses high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to examine the structures of the heart. TEE is performed to view the heart more closely to see if it could be producing blood clots.
Once a diagnosis of heart disease is determined, you can begin appropriate treatment. Treatment of heart disease focuses on correcting or managing the disease in order to allow you to continue to participate in daily activities at an optimal level. Read the following section to learn about the most common forms of treatment for heart disease here.