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Diagnosing Cardiovascular Disease

Although you may have warning signs prior to a heart attack, the heart attack itself may be your first symptom of an underlying problem: cardiovascular disease such as coronary artery disease (CAD) which narrows and hardens your arteries around the heart, or atherosclerosis which is often responsible for artery-blocking clots.

To diagnose the condition, heart attack patients may be asked to undergo a number of diagnostic tests and procedures. By learning what these tests are and why they're being done, you'll feel more confident. These tests are important and help the doctor determine if a heart attack occurred, how much your heart was damaged and also what degree of cardiovascular disease you may have. The tests screen your heart and help the doctor determine what treatment and lifestyle changes will keep your heart healthy and prevent serious future medical events.

There are "non-invasive" and "invasive" diagnostic tests. Non-invasive tests don't involve inserting needles, instruments or fluids into the body. Invasive procedures can include a simple needle prick for a blood test or shot, insertion of a tube, device or scope and major surgeries such as open-heart surgery.

Learning more 

  • Talk to your doctor, nurse or other healthcare professional about heart disease 
  • For more information, visit the American Heart Association website at www.heart.org.