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Decision Assist

Heart specialist

What does the specialist do?

A heart specialist is trained to diagnose and treat heart disease (also called coronary artery disease). Heart disease is a narrowing of the small blood vessels (coronary arteries) that supply blood and oxygen to the heart. Coronary artery disease usually results from the build-up of fatty material and plaque (atherosclerosis).

Atherosclerosis

As the coronary arteries narrow, blood flow to the heart can slow or stop, causing chest pain (stable angina), shortness of breath, heart attack, or other symptoms.

Coronary Artery Disease
Click the icon to see an animation showing coronary artery disease.

A heart specialist may use many tests to help diagnose heart disease. Usually, more than one test will be needed before the specialist can make a definitive diagnosis. Some of the tests include:

Key points

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Review Date: 9/12/2010
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

References:
  • Achenbach S and Daniel WG. Computed tomography of the heart. In: Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 8th ed. Saunders; 2007:chap 18.
  • Fraker TD Jr, Fihn SD, Gibbons RJ, Abrams J, Chatterjee K, Daley J, et al. 2007 chronic angina focused update of the ACC/AHA 2002 Guidelines for the management of patients with chronic stable angina: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines Writing Group to develop the focused update of the 2002 Guidelines for the management of patients with chronic stable angina. Circulation. 2007 Dec 4;116(23):2762-72. Epub 2007 Nov 12.
  • Gaziano JM,Manson, JE, Ridker PM. Primary and secondary prevention of coronary heart disease. In: Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 8th ed. Saunders; 2007:chap 45.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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