Every time I read about heart disease, I keep getting coming up against a reoccurring theme in the symptom department. Whether you’re looking at a diagnosis of anxiety attack, heart attack or angina, the symptoms share commonality – chest pain (heaviness, tightness or squeezing pain in the chest), fatigue, nausea, dizziness, anxiety, sweating, and shortness of breath.
In addition, since angina is an indicator that you may have coronary artery disease, the risk factors (high cholesterol, smoking, family history, weight, cholesterol levels, activity level, etc.) for angina are going to be the same as for heart disease. With so much commonality between symptoms and risk factors, how does the doctor know if you are suffering from angina or something more serious such as a heart attack?
As with any health issue, you have to start at the beginning and make that appointment and open the dialog with your physician. During the initial examination, he’ll gather information from you about your symptoms. Be prepared to discuss questions such as:
• Do you have a family history of heart disease?
• What are your risk factors for developing heart disease?
• What kind of pain are you experiencing? (Stabbing? Pulsing? Pressure?)
• Where is the pain located?
• How severe is the pain?
• How long does the pain last?
• Does the pain happen during exertion or at rest?
• Does anything make the pain better or make it go away?
• Does the pain get better when you change activities?
Your doctor will use the information that he gathers from you to determine if he thinks you have angina and if so, what kind of angina (stable, unstable or variant), that you have. He’ll also use the information as a basis for determining the next steps.
Depending on the information gathered, your doctor may order additional tests. These tests may include the following:
Electrocardiogram (EKG). An EKG is an extremely useful test. It works by recording the electrical activity of your heart.