When you arrive at the hospital, the emergency room doctor will take your history and do a physical exam, and a more complete ECG will be done. A technician will draw blood to test for cardiac enzymes, which are released into the bloodstream when heart cells die.
When Ramona Richman's older sister was diagnosed with high cholesterol, Richman wasn't worried about her own risk. The San Francisco Bay Area stay-at-home mom had her weight under control and assumed that her diet was healthy. So when her doctor broke the news that she, too, had high cholesterol, she was shocked. Her reading of 269 mg/dL was well over the desirable level of less than 200 mg/dL. "My sister had high cholesterol and went on medication, so I imagine that it's a genetic thing," Richman,...
If your tests show that you are at risk of having or are having a heart attack, your doctor will probably recommend that you have cardiac catheterization. The doctor can then see whether your coronary arteries are blocked and how your heart functions.
If your tests do not clearly show a heart attack or unstable angina and you do not have other risk factors (such as a previous heart attack), you will probably have other tests. These may include a cardiac perfusion scan or SPECT imaging test.
If your tests do not show signs of a heart attack but your doctor thinks you have unstable angina and may be in danger of having a heart attack, you will be admitted to the hospital.
Testing after a heart attack
From 2 to 3 days after a heart attack or after being admitted to the hospital for unstable angina, you may have more tests. (Even though you may have had some of these tests while you were in the emergency room, you may have some of them again.)
Doctors use these tests to see how well your heart is working and to find out whether undamaged areas of the heart are still receiving enough blood flow.
These tests may include:
Echocardiogram (echo). An echo is used to find out several things about the heart, including its size, thickness, movement, and blood flow.
Stress electrocardiogram (such as treadmill testing). This test compares your ECG while you are at rest to your ECG after your heart has been stressed, either through physical exercise (treadmill or bike) or by using a medicine.