What Tests Are Used to Diagnose Heart Disease in Women?

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When we look to diagnose heart disease in women, it's really about first addressing the risk factors. Simple things like blood pressure and heart rate are part of the physical exam, but then blood test, looking at cholesterol, looking at blood sugar levels are also important, and getting a history in terms of your family history and whether or not you smoke and how much stress you're under if you exercise and how you eat, all of these matter. But then, when we diagnose heart disease in women, if you have symptoms, it's important to talk to your doctor about those an echocardiogram or ultrasound of the heart might be important as well as a just a standard electrocardiogram or EKG.

If you're having symptoms when you exert yourself, then maybe a stress test would be ordered by your doctor. If you're someone who is at risk for heart disease and your symptoms are a little unclear, maybe a screening test would then be in order. And that would be something like a Carotid Doppler looking at the arteries in your neck or a coronary artery calcium score which is very similar in concept to a mammogram of the heart, looking for calcification in the arteries. It actually depends on who you are and what your risk factors are and what your symptoms are, and depending on those, your doctor might decide all of these different tests that we have in the world of cardiology.