Sometimes, medical history Medical History The medical history and physical examination can suggest that a person has a heart or blood vessel disorder that requires additional testing for accurate diagnosis. When doctors "take a medical... read more and physical examination Physical Examination The medical history and physical examination can suggest that a person has a heart or blood vessel disorder that requires additional testing for accurate diagnosis. When doctors "take a medical... read more alone suggest to a doctor that the person has a heart or blood vessel disorder. However, special diagnostic procedures are often needed to confirm the diagnosis, determine the extent and severity of the disease, and help plan treatment.
Diagnostic procedures can be
Noninvasive tests do not require an incision or a needle puncture other than sometimes a blood draw or a standard short intravenous (IV) catheter placed into a vein in the arm. These tests include
Fluoroscopy (a procedure that uses continuous x-rays) is used infrequently. Blood tests to measure levels of sugar (to test for diabetes), cholesterol, and other substances are often done to look for disorders that can cause heart disease.
Minimally invasive testing typically requires a long flexible catheter, which is inserted into a blood vessel in the wrist, neck or thigh and advanced inside of the blood vessel to the heart. These tests include
Most of these procedures carry very small risk, but the risk increases with the complexity of the procedure, the severity of the heart disorder, and the severity of any other medical conditions the person has.
Sometimes treatments can be given during certain minimally invasive diagnostic tests. For example, percutaneous coronary intervention Percutaneous Coronary Intervention Coronary artery disease is a condition in which the blood supply to the heart muscle is partially or completely blocked. The heart muscle needs a constant supply of oxygen-rich blood. The coronary... read more for people with coronary artery disease Overview of Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) Coronary artery disease is a condition in which the blood supply to the heart muscle is partially or completely blocked. The heart muscle needs a constant supply of oxygen-rich blood. The coronary... read more may be done during cardiac catheterization Cardiac catheterization Cardiac catheterization and coronary angiography are minimally invasive methods of studying the heart and the blood vessels that supply the heart (coronary arteries) without doing surgery. These... read more and radiofrequency ablation Destroying Abnormal Heart Tissue (Ablation) There are many causes of abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias). Some arrhythmias are harmless and do not need treatment. Sometimes arrhythmias stop on their own or with changes in lifestyle,... read more for people with abnormal heart rhythms Overview of Abnormal Heart Rhythms Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) are sequences of heartbeats that are irregular, too fast, too slow, or conducted via an abnormal electrical pathway through the heart. Heart disorders are... read more may be done during electrophysiologic testing Electrophysiologic Testing Electrophysiologic testing is used to evaluate serious abnormalities in heart rhythm or electrical conduction (see Overview of Abnormal Heart Rhythms). In people in whom an arrhythmia is already... read more .