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Diabetes Health Center

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Diabetes and Heart Tests

If you have diabetes, you have a higher risk of heart disease. The good news is that you can prevent or reduce your risk of developing many problems associated with heart disease by getting an evaluation and accurate diagnosis, and starting treatment, when it's most effective.

Talk to your doctor about the following tests to see if you might have signs of heart disease. Then follow the proper medications and lifestyle changes your doctor prescribes to help prevent further problems.

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Blood pressure check. A painless test that uses a special meter called a sphygmomanometer that measures the force of blood pushing against vessel walls. Untreated or uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart attack, heart failure, or kidney failure.

Carotid ultrasound. This imaging procedure uses high-frequency sound waves to view the major neck arteries called carotid arteries and to determine the presence of narrowing caused by atherosclerosis. Finding plaque buildup in these arteries may help predict future stroke and heart attack.

Computerized tomography (CT) of the heart and calcium scores. This imaging test is used to detect calcium deposits in vessels on the heart. More calcium means more coronary atherosclerosis, suggesting a greater likelihood of narrowing and a higher risk of future cardiovascular problems. Your doctor can use the calcium-score screening heart scan to evaluate risk for coronary artery disease.

Electrocardiogram (EKG/ECG). This diagnostic test measures the electrical activity of the heart. It can detect abnormal heart rhythms, heart chamber enlargements, poor blood flow, a heart attack, and other abnormalities of the heart.

Ambulatory Electrocardiogram (Holter monitor). This test measures the electrical activity of the heart during daily activities.

Echocardiograph (echo). This test uses ultrasound to get a graphic outline of the heart chambers and their movement. The test examines the heart's structure and motion and shows how thick the heart muscle is and how well the heart pumps.

Exercise stress test. This treadmill or exercise tolerance test helps a doctor find out how much blood flow gets to your heart muscle when it works hard, such as during exercise. This test can show if blood flow is reduced in the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle. It can help decide a safe level of exercise.

Coronary angiography. This procedure, also known as cardiac catheterization, is used to help doctors evaluate the number and severity of blockages in arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle. The image produced is an angiogram.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on August 12, 2014

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