How does one diagnose heart disease?

December 16, 2012

The WHO (World Health Organization) states that cardiovascular disease accounts for 63% deaths all over the world, every year. While this is a serious disease, if detected early enough, it can be managed quite effectively, reducing the risk of premature death drastically. In this article, we will discuss some of the tests to diagnose heart disease in both men and women.

How to diagnose heart disease?

There are a few steps that a cardiologist will follow in order to either confirm or rule out heart disease.

Step I: Questioning

Usually a doctor will check whether you have any conditions that predispose you to having heart disease. Some of the conditions that can lead to heart disease are:

  • Obesity
  • Type II diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Family history of coronary heart disease.

Once the cardiologist has the necessary information, a physical examination is conducted.

Step 2: Physical Examination

A physical examination involves checking your heart for any abnormalities. Some of the common signs of heart trouble when examined physically are

  • Abnormal heart beats. A whooshing sound indicates a buildup of plaque (excess cholesterol) in the arteries.
  • Fluid buildup in lungs
  • Swelling in the legs, ankles and abdomen
  • Swelling of veins on the back

If the cardiologist suspects heart disease, he/she will then request diagnostic tests to be done to confirm his/her suspicions.

Step 3: Diagnostic Steps

The tests done to diagnose heart disease are the same for men and women. Listed below are some of the best tests to diagnose heart disease.

  • EKG or electrocardiogram (checks the rhythm and the speed at which your heart is beating).
  • An X-ray of the chest (to confirm enlargement of heart, fluid buildup in lungs or any other lung obstruction).
  • BNP Blood Test (BNP is a hormone that increases in level during a heart failure).
  • Echocardiography (checks whether the valves in the heart are functioning normally).
  • Holter Monitor (records how your heart functions when you perform normal activity).
  • Doppler Ultrasound (helps determine if the blood flow to the lungs is normal).
  • Nuclear Heart Scan (helps determine how much blood reaches the heart muscles).
  • Coronary Angiography (shows how well your heart is pumping and how much blood reaches the heart).
  • Stress Test (to determine how your heart works during stress).
  • Cardiac Catheterization (helps determine blood flow and pressure in the arteries of the heart).
  • Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) (shows the areas of the heart that are damaged).
  • Thyroid Function Test (low or high thyroid levels can lead to heart failure, hence thyroid levels in the body are determined).

Early diagnosis is the key in preventing heart diseases. If you feel that you may have heart trouble or may be at risk of developing heart disease, check with a qualified cardiologist.



Submitted by N on December 16, 2012 at 11:24

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