How is angina diagnosed?

Doctors use a combination of exam, medical history, and testing to diagnose stable angina. A diagnosis of stable angina often begins with a physical exam and a discussion of your medical history and symptoms. Then, one or more tests may be used for diagnosis. Among other tests, X-rays, computerized tomography scans (CT scans) and echocardiograms are used to make an image of the heart, while electrocardiograms and stress tests measure how well the heart is functioning. Blood tests can also provide data to help with diagnosis.

The symptoms of unstable and variant angina-such as sudden pain or pressure in the chest and shortness of breath-are similar to the symptoms of a heart attack. Both of these are conditions needing emergency medical attention and are often diagnosed in the hospital when people go to the emergency room for care. An electrocardiogram (ECG) gives doctors information about the electrical signal that tells your heart to beat. Irregularities in this electrical signal can show that you are having a heart attack, rather than an episode of angina. Blood tests can also help doctors tell the difference between angina and heart attack.

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