Echocardiagram, Nuclear Scan, Angiogram and Other Tests for Acute Coronary Syndrome and Heart Attack
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Echocardiagram, Nuclear Scan, Angiogram and Other Tests for Acute Coronary Syndrome and Heart Attack

When patients are admitted into the hospital with heart attack like symptoms the medical team will do many tests to determine if a heart attack has occurred or not. If not the the patient could be experiencing acute coronary syndrome.

When a person is rushed into emergency with heart attack like symptoms, the hospital staff must first determine if the patient is having a heart attack, has had one in the past, or is suffering from acute coronary syndrome which is a catch all phrase for a number of heart conditions.

The medical team will do a series of blood tests, and electrocardiogram (ECG) perhaps an angiogram and imaging tests. Other tests include:


This test is often ordered when you doctor determines that you haven’t had a heart attack. This test is often done before you are released from the hospital to see if there has been a previous heart attacks or if the heart is now currently damaged in any way. The test uses sound waves to record an image of the heart. A wand like device is waved over the chest to produce the sound waves that will produce the image of the heart, and show damage such as the heart’s inability to pump properly.

Chest X-ray

Chest X-ray will determine the shape and the size of your heart including the blood vessels to the heart.

Nuclear scan

The nuclear scan is designed to test the blood flow in the heart. Small amounts of thallium or other radioactive substances are injected into the blood stream and then traced to see how the flow to the heart and lungs are responding. Cameras pick up the flow and dark areas in the blood flow indicates areas where the blood is not flowing as it should.

Computerized tomography (CT) angiogram

The purpose of the CT angiogram is to determine if the arteries to the heart have narrowed due to plaque build-up. It will also scan blocked arteries. This test is quite simple, you will be wearing a hospital gown and lying on the table that is attached to the scan. You will then have an injection of a dye to coat the arteries in order for the angiogram to pick up the flow of blood. This test is done only in the event that no heart attack signs have been found during the standard blood tests and electrocardiogram (ECG) results.

Coronary angiogram (cardiac catheterization)

Again this test is used to determine blocking and narrowing of the arteries. A liquid dye is injected into the arteries by way of a long tube called a catheter. The catheter is usually inserted into the leg arteries that lead to the heart. Images of the blood flow is then taken.

This test makes it possibly for the doctor to correct the blockage with a procedure called angioplasty. The angioplasty procedure inserts tiny balloons into the artery to keep them inflated and the arteries open. Sometimes stent which is a mesh tube is inserted and left in the arteries to make sure they do not narrow again.


Mayo Clinic

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Comments (14)

Well written, informative article.

thank you dakshina

Very well presented heart health diagnostic article.

thanks Roberta

Another expert piece. Thanks, Carol.

thank you Michael

Nice article! Voted

thank you Jerome

Another enlightening read to understand how medical procedures can help us. Thanks.

thanks Patrick

A very helpful article for determining our heart's heath condition, Carol.

Excellent and informative share

Good information to have before you need it. Thanks, Carol.

thanks gayle