An echocardiogram is an exam of the heart using sound waves. This test may be done while the person is at rest or exercising (called an exercise stress echocardiogram).
Nuclear Heart Scan
A nuclear heart scan (also known as a thallium stress test) shows areas of the heart that lack blood flow and are damaged. It can also reveal problems with the heart's pumping action. A small amount of radioactive material is injected into a vein, usually in the arm. A scanning camera positioned over the heart records whether the nuclear material is taken up by the heart muscle (these are healthy areas) or not (these are damaged areas).
The camera can also evaluate how well the heart muscle pumps blood. A nuclear heart scan can be done during both rest and exercise, enhancing the usefulness of its results.
Cardiac catheterization, also known as coronary angiography or coronary arteriography, is a computerized x-ray of the coronary arteries. A catheter (a thin plastic tube) is inserted into an artery in the groin or arm and threaded into a coronary artery. After a fluid is injected, the x-ray reveals blockages in the coronary arteries.
Several other medical conditions can cause chest pain. It is important to keep in mind that chest pain is not always caused by a problem in the heart. Your healthcare provider will consider other possible conditions before making an angina diagnosis. Some of these other conditions include:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Peptic ulcer, which is an ulcer in the stomach or first part of the intestines
- Arthritis of the shoulder or spine
- Cervical disk disease
- Herpes zoster
- Aortic stenosis
- Pericarditis, which is inflammation of the thin layer of tissue that surrounds the heart
- Pulmonary embolism