How is Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) Diagnosed?

Your cardiologist (heart doctor) can tell if you have coronary artery disease by

  • talking to you about your symptoms, medical history, and risk factors
  • performing a physical exam
  • performing diagnostic tests

Diagnostic tests help your doctor evaluate the extent of your coronary heart disease, its effect on the function of your heart, and the best form of treatment for you. They may include:

  • Electrocardiograph tests, such as an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) or exercise stress tests, use the electrocardiogram to evaluate the electrical activity generated by the heart at rest and with activity.
  • Laboratory Tests: include a number of blood tests used to diagnose and monitor treatment for heart disease.
  • Invasive Testing, such as cardiac catheterization, involve inserting catheters into the blood vessels of the heart in order to get a closer look at the coronary arteries.

Other diagnostic tests may include:

  • Nuclear Imaging produces images by detecting radiation from different parts of the body after the administration of a radioactive tracer material.
  • Ultrasound Tests, such as echocardiogram use ultrasound, or high frequency sound wave, to create graphic images of the heart's structures, pumping action, and direction of blood flow.
  • Radiographic Tests use x-ray machines or very high tech machines (CT, MRI) to create pictures of the internal structures of the chest.

Tests used to predict increased risk for coronary artery disease include: C-reactive protein (CRP), complete lipid profile and calcium score screening heart scan.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy