Testing for Angina

Submitted on March 27, 2012

Testing for Angina

Angina is a condition characterized by severe chest pain and discomfort and is the result of an area of the heart muscle not receiving enough oxygen – rich blood. It is important to remember that Angina is not a disease in itself, but merely a symptom of a more serious underlying problem usually affecting the heart. One of the most common medical conditions that arises as a symptom of angina is a coronary heart disease. Coronary heart disease is a condition influenced by a build up of plaque within the coronary arteries that serve to supply blood to the oxygen muscle.

Angina Conditions

The plaque substance is essentially an accumulation of cholesterol, fat, calcium as well as other substances commonly found in the blood. The resulting obstruction within the arteries serves to reduce the flow of blood to the heart muscle – slowly building up into a complete blockage that could lead to a heart attack. The symptoms that a patient would experience during an attack of angina include a feeling of heaviness, pressure, tightening around the chest as well as a prominent ache behind the breast bone. When angina is initially detected, it is categorized as either being stable or as being unstable. The unstable version of the condition will require emergency medical care to prevent the onset of a heart attack. Angina testing is essential in order to correctly identify the seriousness of the condition.

Angina Test Procedure

Angina testing can be performed by a variety of methods. Stress testing,  is probably the most common non intrusive method of diagnosis and the patient. Here the patient would be required to perform a number of physically strenuous tasks in order to get the heart muscle beating fast. The patient will also be administered certain medications that increase heart rate and his or her blood pressure. The EKG readings are closely monitored throughout the test. An EKG, or electrocardiogram, is another commonly used method when it comes to testing for angina. The test records the electrical activity of the heart and gauges the speed that it is beating at. The test also gauges the strength and timing of the electrical signals that pass through the muscle. It is important to remember that an EKG is not a definitive test for an angina as it is not uncommon for some people suffering from angina to have normal EKG readings. However, the EKG is helpful because not only does it show signs of previous heart attacks, but indications of an impending heart attack as well.