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.

Continue Learning about Angina


Just a fancy name for chest pain or discomfort, angina often points to an underlying heart problem. Although you may experience pressure or a squeezing sensation in your chest, the feeling may also occur in your neck, jaw, shoulde...

rs, back or arms. These symptoms warn doctors that you may have coronary heart disease, the most common form of heart disease in adults. (The fatty material that causes heart disease restricts the arteries; this restriction causes a reduction of oxygenated blood to the heart muscles, leading to chest pain.) Not all chest pain is caused by heart problems. Angina can result from a lung infection, panic attack or even a blockage in an artery of the lung, called pulmonary embolism. Always see a doctor so he or she can determine why you are having chest pain.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.