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Angina Diagnosis

MEDICAL ENCYCLOPEDIA 
Angina Diagnosis
What is angina?
Causes and Risk Factors
Symptoms
Diagnosis
Treatment

It can be difficult to determine whether symptoms of chest pain are serious or caused by a milder condition. Plus, angina can lead to a heart attack, so you should never try to diagnose or treat it on your own. For these reasons, you should always see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

If you think you may be experiencing recurring angina or are worried about angina risk because of a strong family history, make an appointment with your family doctor. If angina is found early, treatment may be easier and more effective.

Medical history
To diagnose angina, your doctor will start by asking about symptoms. Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions in order to diagnose angina. You'll also be asked about any risk factors, including whether you have a family history of heart disease. Be ready to answer them and reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Questions to prepare for include:

  • Do you experience other symptoms, such as nausea or dizziness?
  • Do you have trouble swallowing?
  • Do you often have heartburn? (heartburn can mimic angina)
  • Have symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • How severe are symptoms?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve symptoms?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen symptoms?
  • When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?

Be prepared to also to describe discomfort or pain:

  • Does pain spread to the neck and arms? How and when did the pain start? Did something specific seem to trigger the pain? Does it start gradually and build up? Or start suddenly? How long does it last?
  • What makes pain worse? Activity? Breathing? Body movement?
  • What makes pain feel better? Rest? Deep breath? Sitting up?
  • Where is the pain located? Is it in a specific area or more generalized?

Medical Exams
To diagnose angina, your doctor should perform a physical exam. Your medical history, description of symptoms, physical exam and test results will all be used in order to determine if you are experiencing angina, or not. There are several other tests your doctor may order to help confirm whether or not you are experiencing angina:

Blood tests - Tests can be performed to confirm or exclude possible heart attack. Samples of the blood can be tested for the presence of certain heart enzymes that slowly leak into the blood if the heart has been damaged by a heart attack.

Cardiac computerized tomography (CT) scan - During a cardiac CT scan, an X-ray tube inside a specialized machine rotates around the body and collects images of your heart and chest, which can indicate narrowing of heart arteries and/or heart enlargement.

Chest X-ray - This test takes images of your heart and lungs to identify other conditions that might explain symptoms. X-rays also healp diagnose an enlarged heart.

Coronary angiography - Coronary angiography uses X-ray imaging to examine the inside of the heart's blood vessels. During the procedure, a dye is injected into the blood vessels of the heart while an X-ray machine rapidly takes a series of images (angiograms), that detail the inside of the blood vessels.

Echocardiogram - An echocardiogram uses sound waves to produce images of the heart to identify angina-related problems, including whether lack of adequate blood flow or damage to the heart muscle.

Electrocardiogram (ECG) - Heart beats are triggered by an electrical impulse generated from special cells in the heart. An ECG records electrical signals as they travel through the heart to look for patterns among heartbeats, slowed or interrupted blood flow, and/or symptoms of a heart attack.

Nuclear stress test - A nuclear stress test helps measure blood flow to the heart muscle at rest and during stress. During a nuclear stress test, a radioactive substance is injected into the bloodstream and travels to the heart which is then tracked by a special scanner to create images of the heart muscle and identify areas of inadequate blood flow.

Stress test - Sometimes angina is easier to diagnose when your heart is working harder. During a stress test, you exercise by walking on a treadmill or pedalling a stationary bicycle while blood pressure is monitored and EKG readings are recorded. If you're unable to exercise, you may be given drugs that cause your heart to work harder to simulate exercising. Other tests may also be performed during stress testing

Once you have been diagnosed with angina you can begin treatment. It's never too early to make healthy lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, eating healthy foods and becoming more physically active. These are primary lines of defense against angina and its complications, including heart attack and stroke. Read our How to Treat Angina section now to learn more about stable, variant and unstable angina treatment options and goals.

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Tags: angina treatment, quitting smoking, complications, Heart Disease, Heart Attack, heart muscle, angiography, blood tests, heartbeats, angiograms, procedure, treatment, Heartburn, diagnosis, dizziness, adequate, symptoms, Exercise, smoking, nausea
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