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Coronary Artery Disease (CAD): Diagnosis

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This information was reviewed and approved by Andrew M. Freeman, MD, FACC, FACP (6/1/2019).

How is Coronary Artery Disease Diagnosed?

Often, symptoms bring a person in to see a cardiologist. The cardiologist will take into account several factors in diagnosing coronary artery disease (CAD), such as family history, symptoms, and risk factors. In addition, there are several diagnostic tests that are helpful when used together to diagnose the condition.

  • Stress Testing. In a stress test, you perform a physical activity, such as jogging on a treadmill, to increase the speed of your heartbeat. This helps determine how well your heart performs. Usually, the stress test is accompanied by either nuclear or echocardiographic imaging.

  • Echocardiography. An echocardiogram uses sound waves to produce an image of the heart, showing how well it is working. It can help determine which areas of the heart are having problems and help identify any damage to the heart.

  • Coronary CT: During a coronary CT angiogram pictures are taken of cross sections or slices of the heart. A coronary artery calcium scoring CT can detect and measure the extent of the calcium deposits in the coronary arteries.

  • Cardiac Catheterization. This is a minimally invasive test which not only allows visualization of your coronary arteries, but also will allow for possible opening of blockages using a piece of metal scaffolding called a stent.


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