8 Common Examinations to Detect Heart Disease

Share This

Your heart, a tireless engine powering your every move, deserves the best care. But often, heart disease, the leading cause of death globally, lurks undetected until a critical event. The good news? Early detection is key to preventing serious complications. This post dives into 8 common examinations that act as your allies in uncovering heart trouble before it disrupts your life.

Imagine this: a painless test that provides a window into your heart’s electrical activity. Sounds futuristic? It’s actually an electrocardiogram (ECG), one of the heroes in our lineup. We’ll explore how it, along with other examinations like blood tests and stress tests, work their magic.

Ever wondered if your arteries have become narrow, hindering blood flow? We’ll unveil imaging techniques that shed light on this, like the fascinating echocardiogram that uses sound waves to create a moving picture of your heart.

But wait, there’s more! This post doesn’t shy away from advanced options like CT coronary angiograms that provide a detailed 3D map of your coronary arteries.

By the end of this journey, you’ll be equipped with knowledge about these examinations, empowering you to discuss them with your doctor and create a personalized plan for optimal heart health. So, buckle up and get ready to become an advocate for your own well-being!

Unveiling the Silent Killer with These 8 Heart Disease Exams

These are a few ways your physician can examine your heart:

Blood tests:

There are various reasons to undergo blood testing. In an emergency, it can measure toxins that manifest in the blood as well as the degree of heart muscle injury. A blood test can detect chemicals that are released into the blood stream when heart muscle is injured as a result of a heart attack.

Blood tests are also carried out to identify diabetes, excessive cholesterol, and to monitor kidney and liver function, which can all be used to determine whether or not a patient with a cardiac disease can take certain medications.


An easy and rapid test is an ECG. It is employed to evaluate the heart’s electrical system. A shift in an ECG will indicate thickened heart muscles, heart attacks, and abnormal heart rhythms. Often, this is done when you are “at rest” (laying down), but your doctor may also want to assess how your heart responds to stress (induced by treadmill exercise or medication).

Your doctor could advise getting an ECG if:

  • You might be suffering from high blood pressure.
  • You have palpitations, shortness of breath, or chest pain.
  • You have a heart disease risk (eg. if you have a family history of the condition, or if you have diabetes)
  • You experienced a fainting spell.

Stress test:

A stress test, often known as an “exercise” test, is a specific sort of ECG that is carried out while a person is working out. This test is designed to find out how well a person’s heart responds to stress. Exercise can help expose issues with blood flow within the heart, blood pressure changes, and cardiac rhythm issues since it causes the heart to beat harder and quicker. The typical stress test comprises using a treadmill or stationary cycle while breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate are all being monitored.

Chest x-ray:

A typical medical scan that creates images of your organs, tissues, and bones is an x-ray. High-energy photons called X-rays, as opposed to low-energy photons that make up light, are partially absorbed by the bones and soft tissues of your body, creating shadows and outlines of the heart, lung, and bones.

Chest x-rays are also used to look for lung cancer, emphysema, and other dangerous illnesses including pneumonia. Your doctor might suggest one if

  • Have been involved in an accident
  • You have a chronic cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain.

In reality, X-rays are short, simple tests that subject your body to very little radiation. There won’t be anything specific you need to do in advance. You’ll be given a hospital gown by our staff, and you might have to take off your jewellery, eyeglasses, and body piercings. Tell your doctor right away if you have any metal implants, such as a pacemaker, and, most critically, if you are pregnant or think you could be.

Before to providing you with the results, your images will be examined by your doctor and a radiologist (a medical professional who specialises in the interpretation of x-rays).

MRI scan:

Using extremely powerful magnets and radio waves, an MRI is performed to produce finely detailed images of the heart on a computer. The heart is captured in both still and moving images. Sometimes a special dye is applied to enhance the visibility of the heart and coronary arteries. The heart’s structure, functionality, and presence of scarring can all be seen by the doctor thanks to the MRI.


An echocardiogram creates images of your heart using high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound). The doctor can then evaluate the heart’s structure and function thanks to this.

An echocardiography may be necessary for patients who are experiencing chest pain and shortness of breath in order to rule out illnesses like blood clots in the lung, fluid buildup, and heart valve issues. By doing so, the doctor will be able to identify the condition’s origin and effect and tailor your care to it. It is regularly carried done following a heart attack. Echocardiograms don’t include radiation like x-rays do. They are typically seen as being quite secure.

Your physician might suggest an echocardiography if:

  • You may have heart disease, such as heart failure, malfunctioning heart valves, irregular heartbeat, or a heart attack.
  • Your new-born infant may have a cardiac problem.

CT Coronary Angiogram:

A computer tomography (CT) scan of the heart creates a 3D image of the heart using data from several quickly taken x-rays. A special kind of CT scan called a coronary CT angiography can look for heart-related issues.

A particular x-ray test called a coronary CT angiography looks for heart artery blockages. Your doctor will administer a dye through a vein in your hand or arm to your arteries, outlining the cardiac arteries and any blockages that may be present. This scan is the gold standard for detecting heart diseases as it allows doctors to look into the heart and surrounding heart arteries in minute detail to determine if there are signs of any abnormalities.

A CTCA may be advised by your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Unknown discomfort or pain in the chest
  • abnormally high blood pressure and/or symptoms that could indicate a significant arterial tear
  • high CT coronary calcium score abnormality
  • Your stress test yielded uncertain findings.

However, due to the radiation involved and the fact that each organ requires a somewhat different scan procedure, your doctor will order a CT scan based on your needs. CT scans are also used to evaluate various body components.

Calcium Scan:

A plain CT scan of the heart without contrast is called a “calcium scan”. You won’t need to take any particular precautions to undertake a Coronary Calcium Scan, which is quick and simple. It looks for “hardened” calcium and cholesterol deposits that may crack and form blood clots that might result in heart attacks. This test will help determine whether you are at risk of having a heart attack. Your doctor may advise a more in-depth test or suggest lifestyle adjustments in response to the results (eg. medication, diet and exercise).

A score representing the overall amount of calcium deposits, is typically provided after the scan, and based on the patient’s age, the scores are interpreted as follows:

  • 0: The heart has no calcium, indicating a low likelihood that a heart attack would occur in the future.
  • 100–300: There are moderate plaque deposits. Over the following three to five years, there is a comparatively significant risk of heart attack or other cardiac problems.
  • More than 300: Denotes a very high to severe illness and heart attack risk.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Share This

You May Also Like

Avatar photo

About the Author: Sasha Bayat, RD, LDN

Registered dietitian Sasha Bayat, RD, LDN.Sasha’s advice for easy, nutritious meals is to keep staple items that are shelf stable in your pantry and to practice having half a plate of vegetables, a quarter of protein, and a quarter of complex carbohydrates. She advises not to shy away from bagged, canned, or frozen foods, as they can still offer just as many nutrients!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *