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Chest Pain Overview (cont.)

How is chest pain diagnosed?

Chest pain is diagnosed by history evaluation and physical examination. The health care professional initially wants to distinguish between cardiac and non-cardiac causes and sometimes can do so with the patient's history. This is important because heart-related chest pain may need immediate intervention and treatment. During the patient's history and physical exam, it is not unusual for medical personnel to obtain an electrocardiogram (EKG) and a chest X-ray. Elevated blood levels of troponin can indicate heart muscle damage. Other blood tests, such as a complete blood count (CBC) and a basic metabolic profile, are helpful in emergency evaluation.

In more complex situations, tests such as an exercise stress test, stress echocardiography, myocardial perfusion scintigraphy, or CT angiography can be used. Other tests and procedures that may be used include Holter monitoring and coronary angiography. Coronary artery disease is detected by coronary angiography that is used to identify atherosclerosis.

People with chest pain who are uncertain whether the chest pain is from a heart problem or not must be evaluated immediately in the emergency department.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/26/2014

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