What Tests Are Done To Diagnose An Actual Heart Attack?

Dr. Steven Nissen answers the question: 'What Tests Diagnose Heart Attack?'

— -- Question: What tests are done to diagnose an actual heart attack?

Answer: The first thing when you have a symptom of a heart attack -- which is chest pain, neck pain, jaw pain, shortness of breath, often pain going down the arm -- is to get to a hospital emergency room.

And there are two mainstays of diagnosis. One is an electrocardiogram, an EKG that looks for particular changes that indicate that there's damage being done to the heart muscle. And the other is a blood test where enzymes are measured. Now those enzymes go up within a few hours of the onset of a blockage in the coronary that's shut down blood flow. And if those enzymes are elevated or if the electrocardiogram is abnormal, you've got a heart attack and you should be taken immediately to the heart catheterization laboratory to have that blocked coronary reopened.

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