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What is the procedure for diagnosing ischemia of the heart?

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Quick Answer

Physicians use electrocardiograms, echocardiograms, nuclear scans, coronary angiograms and cardiac CT scans to diagnose ischemia of the heart, states Mayo Clinic. Physicians also take the patient's health history, complete a physical exam, and sometimes order a stress test to help with the diagnosis.

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Full Answer

Ischemia of the heart, also known as myocardial ischemia, is a condition in which the heart does not receive enough oxygen, according to Mayo Clinic. Symptoms include chest pain or pressure, neck or jaw pain, shoulder or arm pain, heartbeat irregularities, and fatigue. Some patients have no symptoms.

An electrocardiogram is a simple test that looks for irregularities in the heart's electrical activity, maintains Mayo Clinic. An echocardiogram is a more-involved test, in which sound waves give the technician an accurate picture of the structures of the heart. Nuclear scans allow the observation of blood flow during exercise by using an X-rays to observe a small amount of injected radioactive material in the bloodstream. Doctors use coronary angiograms to observe the inside of blood vessels with dye, and cardiac CT scans check for calcium deposits in the arteries of the heart. Stress tests allow doctors to check for heart problems that only occur when the circulatory system is under stress.

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