Doctors use numerous tests to assess heart health and diagnosis heart disease. Here are descriptions of some of the most common tests and how they work to evaluate heart health. Consult with your doctor to learn the right steps for you on your way to better heart health.
Electrocardiogram (EKG/ECG) Test
There is an electrical wave that moves through the heart with each beat. The electrocardiogram test measures this activity in each part of the heart through electrodes attached to the skin. By measuring the electrical impulse as it travels through each part of the heart, doctors are able to tell whether the heart maintains a proper rhythm when beating, if there are any enlarged parts or other abnormalities, and whether or not blood flow to the heart is appropriate.
C-reactive Protein Test
C-reactive protein, or CRP, is a protein that increases in concentration in the blood stream when there is inflammation somewhere in the body. A high-sensitivity C-reactive protein test is a simple blood test that can help determine whether or not coronary arteries are narrowed.
An echocardiogram uses ultrasound waves to generate images of your heart and the attached blood vessels. By looking at these images, your doctor can tell if there are any problems with the size, shape, strength, and function of your heart, as well as see the state of the large blood vessels in the surrounding area.
A stress test is used to see how one’s heart functions while exercising. A patient walks on a treadmill while hooked up to equipment that monitors the heart. The speed of the treadmill is increased to determine how the heart handles an increased workload. The results of this test can help a doctor establish what a safe level of exercise looks like for a patient, and to predict the risk of heart attack.