• Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)

    Suspicion of CAD may be based on your medical history and symptoms, such as chest pain with exertion. A complete physical exam will be done to look for other signs of CAD. Diagnosis is often made by assessing the results of several tests. Tests can also eliminate other health conditions with symptoms similar to CAD. In some people, CAD is found accidentally during a regular physical exam.
    The most accurate way to diagnose CAD is with coronary angiography and coronary catheterization. During this procedure, a thin tube is threaded to the coronary artery where a dye is released. The dye shows the location of blockages in the coronary arteries.
    Other tests that may detect changes in blood flow include:
    • Echocardiogram —Ultrasound that detects abnormalities in the heart muscle by highlighting areas of poor blood flow.
    • MRI scan —Evaluates blood flow to the heart muscle.
    • PET scan —Evaluates blood flow to the heart muscle.
    Some tests may detect heart damage or other health conditions. These may include:
    • Cardiac CT scan —Detects calcium deposits that may indicate early atherosclerosis .
    • Exercise stress test —Records the heart's electrical activity during increased physical activity. It may be coupled with other tests that detect blood flow through the heart. People who cannot exercise may be given IV medication that simulates the effects of physical exertion.
    • Chest x-ray —Detects heart enlargement or congestion in the lungs. This test can help diagnose heart failure or an unrelated lung condition.
    • Electrocardiogram (EKG)—The EKG records the electrical activity of your heart through electrodes attached to the skin. This test will help diagnose heart rhythm problems, muscle abnormalities, and damage to the heart from a previous heart attack .
    • SPECT scan—Evaluates blood flow to the heart muscle or looks for signs of a heart attack.
    Blood tests may also be done to look for risk factors for CAD such as:
    • Elevated C-reactive protein levels
    • Cholesterol levels
    • High blood glucose levels (diabetes)
    Blood tests may also be done to look for related conditions such as kidney or liver disease.


    C-reactive protein (CRP) as a cardiac risk factor. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated November 9, 2012. Accessed January 27, 2014.

    Coronary artery disease (CAD). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated December 16, 2013. Accessed January 27, 2014.

    How is coronary heart disease diagnosed? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/cad/diagnosis.html. Updated August 23, 2012. Accessed January 27, 2014.

    Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/SymptomsDiagnosisofHeartAttack/Single-Photon-Emission-Computed-Tomography-SPECT%5FUCM%5F446358%5FArticle.jsp. Updated November 6, 2012. Accessed January 27, 2014.

    Revision Information

  • LiveWell personal health survey

    How healthy are you really? Find out – free.Learn more

    It's time to stop guessing. If you want to make some changes but just aren't sure how, the free personal health survey from LiveWell is a great place to start.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease and prevent heart attacks. HeartSHAPE® is a painless, non-invasive test that checks pictures of your heart for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.

  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.