Reaching a Diagnosis
If your physician suspects that you have coronary artery disease, or you are experiencing the symptoms of it, several tests can be undertaken to make a diagnosis. Initially the cardiologist would undertake an electrocardiogram (ECG), first while you are resting and then again while you are walking or running on a treadmill.
If the ECG suggests that your heart is not getting the oxygen it requires, the next step would be to undertake an angiogram. This procedure involves the injection of a dye, which is visible by x-ray, into the coronary arteries. The dye is injected by means of a catheter, which is introduced into the groin or to the arm. The x-ray is in the form of a video allowing the cardiologist to see the arteries and the presence of any narrowing or blockages. Using this information the physician will recommend a course of treatment.
The cardiologist will discuss with you the various treatment options. If medication therapy or bypass surgery is not recommended at this stage, then angioplasty and possible stenting are the most likely alternatives. These procedures involve the widening of the blocked vessels in order to restore the flow of blood.