Heart attack patients may be asked to undergo a number of diagnostic
tests and procedures. By learning what these tests are and why they're
being done, you'll feel more confident. These tests are important and
help your healthcare provider determine if a heart attack occurred, how
much your heart was damaged and also what degree of coronary artery
disease (CAD) you may have. Your heart attack may have been the first
symptom that you have CAD. The tests screen your heart and help the
doctor determine what treatment and lifestyle changes will keep your
heart healthy and prevent serious future medical events.
There are "non-invasive" and "invasive" diagnostic tests. Non-invasive diagnostic testing involving imaging may involve having a needle stick, such as for an intravenous injection of a contrast agent. Invasive procedures can include insertion of a tube, device or scope.
If you've had a heart attack, you may have already had certain procedures to help you survive your heart attack and diagnose your condition. For example, many heart attack patients have undergone thrombolysis, a procedure that involves injecting a clot-dissolving agent to restore blood flow in a coronary artery. This procedure is administered within a few (usually three) hours of a heart attack. If this treatment isn't done immediately after a heart attack, many patients will need to undergo coronary angioplasty or coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG) later to improve blood supply to the heart muscle.