Coronary Heart Disease
Alternate Names : Coronary Artery Disease, CHD, CAD
How is the disease diagnosed?
The diagnosis of CHD starts with a medical history and physical exam. An electrocardiogram, or
EKG, may show abnormalities. However, an EKG may be normal
between attacks of angina.
A stress EKG is an EKG taken before, during,
and after exercise. It is designed to bring on an attack of angina and record
the changes that take place in the heart. Sometimes the person is
injected with a substance called thallium during the stress test. Special
pictures are then taken of the heart. The thallium scan can show areas of the
heart that are damaged.
The most reliable test for diagnosing CHD is a cardiac catheterization. In this procedure,
a thin hollow tube or catheter is placed into an artery in the leg or arm. It
is then passed through the artery and into the coronary artery. A contrast
agent is injected into the tube. This allows the doctor to watch the blood flow through
the heart and its arteries.
Other techniques that are being used to help in the diagnosis of CHD include
stress echocardiograms and new generations of CT scans.