If you go to a health care clinic or hospital with chest pain, especially if it radiates down your left arm or you experience shortness of breath or severe dizziness, then medical testing will be necessary to rule out cardiovascular disease. While other, less serious conditions can mimic the symptoms of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks, the causes of your symptoms need to be quickly evaluated. Here are some medical testing interventions that may be recommended to rule out cardiovascular disease and heart attacks.
Cardiac Enzyme Test
During and after a heart attack, your blood level of cardiac enzymes may be high. These enzymes include creatine phosphokinase, also known as creatine kinase. If your cardiac enzyme blood tests reveal high levels of creatine phosphokinase, then you may have damage to your cardiac muscle, which is often caused by a heart attack.
Congestive heart failure and myocarditis, which refers to the inflammation of a portion of the heart muscle, can also cause elevated cardiac enzymes. Your doctor will determine if your elevated enzymes are the result of a heart attack or other cardiovascular conditions based on your symptoms and further medical testing.
Another test that the physician may recommend is the electrocardiogram, or EKG. Before the test begins, you will be asked to lie flat on an examination table and then an EKG technician or nurse will place electrodes on various locations around your body, typically on your chest and legs.
You will need to remain still during the test, which lasts only a few seconds. You will be hooked up to a machine that will take tracings of the electrical activity of your heart while you are at rest. If your EKG is abnormal, further medical testing may be warranted. An electrocardiogram can pick up various arrhythmias, however, it may not reveal that you actually had a heart attack or have blocked arteries.
The echocardiogram is a non-invasive diagnostic test that can reveal structural abnormalities of the heart and other types of cardiovascular conditions. This is a painless test that is essentially an ultrasound of your heart. It is considered very safe because it does not use radiation to generate images of your cardiovascular system. Instead, it uses sound waves just like a traditional ultrasound machine.
The echocardiogram is generally very accurate, however, certain medications such as beta-blockers may skew the results. Beta-blockers are used in the treatment of cardiac arrhythmias and high blood pressure, and they can cause your heart rate to slow down. If you are having an echocardiogram, tell the physician that you take beta-blockers because your medication-induced slow heart rate may be erroneously diagnosed as bradycardia, an abnormally slow heartbeat.
If you experience any of the above symptoms, seek emergency medical attention. When heart attacks and other types of cardiovascular diseases are diagnosed and treated promptly, you may be more likely to have a very good prognosis. Reach out to local medical testing clinics to learn more.