Angina is a condition that causes temporary chest pain. Though angina is not a heart attack, it might certainly be a sign of an underlying heart problem. Angina symptoms are generally felt as chest pain upon physical exertion.
Though the diagnosis of angina may be discomforting, it is essential in preventing many major medical conditions like heart failure, coronary artery disease, and other heart problems.
How is angina diagnosed?
As soon as a person experiences angina symptoms, doctors order certain diagnostic tests in order to confirm the diagnosis of angina and the underlying cause of the chest pain.
First of all, it is a bit difficult for a person to know the difference between angina and heart attack. However, angina symptoms subside within a few minutes and chest pain caused due to heart attack is often severe and is accompanied by other heart attack symptoms like cold sweat, radiating pain in the left arm, jaw, and neck, and severe chest tightness. Having said that, heart attack symptoms can be a little less severe in the case of a mild heart attack.
That is why it is important for a person to consult a doctor and get immediate evaluation once chest pain is experienced. Depending upon the angina symptoms doctors generally advice:
- ECG (electrocardiogram)
- TMT (stress test)
- Blood tests like lipid profile test, and tests for the enzyme troponin
- Chest X-ray
- CT-scan of chest
- MRI angiography
- Catheter angiogram
Electrocardiogram test uses electrical impulses produced by heartbeats to test the functioning of the heart. If any irregular heartbeat is found, it is further investigated for underlying heart problems. This test is done by attaching sensors in the form of electrodes. These sensors are attached to the chest, and limbs.
The resultant graph that is produced is a representative of the heartbeat. Any aberration in this graph is indicative of a heart problem that is causing the angina symptoms.
Echocardiogram uses sound waves produced by a beating heart in order to produce images of the heart functioning. It is used to determine the functioning of the heart valves and heart muscle. It is also used to determine the presence of irregular heartbeats, blood clots in the heart, and complications of the aorta.
With the presence of any abnormalities along with the presence of angina symptoms, further diagnostic tests like Holter monitor, cardiac MRI or invasive tests like angiography are performed.