Typically, the tests required to properly diagnose heart disease depend on your condition. If your doctor believes your condition is severe, various tests – perhaps some which may be deemed unnecessary – could be called for. No matter the type of heart disease, your doctor will likely require a physical examination and your medical history. These tests are common, though. He may follow them up with blood tests and a chest X-ray, which help diagnose heart disease.
It is common for a heart care specialist to request numerous tests to properly diagnose heart disease. Such tests include:
- Electrocardiogram (ECG) – An ECG records the electrical signals of your heart and detects irregularities in the rhythm and structure of the muscle. An ECG may be performed while at rest or during exercise.
- Holter Monitoring – A Holter monitor is a portable medical device that records a continuous ECG for up to 72 hours. Holter monitoring is often used to detect irregular heart rhythms that were not found during a regular ECG.
- Stress Test – A stress test involves raising the heart rate through exercise or special medication while testing the heart. The heart’s response is then recorded.
Some individuals claim that stress tests are completely unnecessary. However, the recorded data allows your heart care specialist to better determine an underlying condition.
However, one test that many agree to be unnecessary includes magnetic resonance angiograms for spontaneous carotid artery dissections. This condition occurs in fewer than 1 in 34,000 individuals. It is costly and time-consuming, and patients often experience headaches or neck pain for weeks afterward.
However, “unnecessary” may be a simple misnomer. No test is really unnecessary if there’s even the slightest likelihood of diagnosing a disease or condition. The cost and time will be worth it.