Font Size

Coronary Heart Disease (cont.)

More Exams and Tests

Patient Comments

Stress echocardiography is an alternative to the nuclear stress test. Many people prefer this test because it does not use a radioactive agent.

  • Echocardiography is a type of sonar that uses sound waves to bounce off walls and valves, creating an image of the heart as it beats.
  • The movements of the ventricular walls are compared during stress and at rest. Wall motion drops during stress if the coronary artery supplying that part of the heart has significant obstruction.
  • Like the other stress tests, the heart is stressed either by exercise on a treadmill or by administration of a drug.

Electron beam (ultrafast) CT scan (EBCT) is a noninvasive but somewhat controversial test. By measuring the amount of calcium deposited in the plaques of coronary arteries, it can detect blockages of only 10-20% of an artery, which may not show up in other tests.

  • Generally, such minor blockages are treated medically; lifestyle changes and risk factor modifications are recommended to prevent worsening of the blockage.
  • Because elderly people frequently have calcium in their coronary arteries without significant narrowing, EBCT is of limited value in this age group.
  • The advantage of EBCT comes in screening young people with one or more heart disease risk factors.

Coronary angiography by cardiac catheterization is the best way to evaluate coronary heart disease.

  • You will go to a hospital or an outpatient catheterization lab (for same-day surgery).
  • Under guidance of an X-ray camera, a long, thin plastic tube (catheter) is threaded into the opening of your coronary arteries from a blood vessel in either your groin (femoral artery) or your arm (radial artery).
  • Once the catheter reaches the coronary artery opening, it injects a small amount of iodine dye, which makes the coronary arteries visible on the X-ray screen.
  • Pictures of the coronary arteries are then recorded in a computer for later review. The images show the diameter of the coronary arteries and any blockages narrowing them.
  • Coronary angiography is an invasive test. In experienced hands, the risk of complications is less than 1%.
  • It is the only test that helps a cardiologist to determine precisely whether to treat you with bypass surgery, a less-invasive technique such as angioplasty or stent placement, or just medications.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/15/2015
Medical Author:
Medical Editor:
Medical Editor:
Medical Editor:

Must Read Articles Related to Coronary Heart Disease

Angina Pectoris

Angina pectoris is a term to describe ...learn more >>

Automated External Defibrillators (AED)
Automated External Defibrillators (AED) Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are used when a person has had a heart attack or sudden cardiac arrest. It is a machine that instructs the user through...learn more >>
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation is a procedure a person can use to assist a person who is in cardiac arrest. Providing CPR to a person who is in cardiac a...learn more >>

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Heart Disease:

Coronary Heart Disease - Causes

What was the cause of your coronary heart disease?

Heart Disease - Diagnosis

Have you been diagnosed with a type of heart disease? If so, what was the diagnosis and treatment.

Atrial Fibrillation Slideshow

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Hypertensive Heart Disease »

Uncontrolled and prolonged elevation of blood pressure (BP) can lead to a variety of changes in the myocardial structure, coronary vasculature, and conduction system of the heart.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

Medical Dictionary