Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

AMI Evaluation

The evaluation of a heart attack begins with a history and physical examination.

Physical findings in someone with a heart attack may include:


The two most important tests a physician uses to diagnose a heart attack include:

Additional blood testing may include:

Additional tests that may be used to evaluate a heart attack include:

AMI Electrocardiogram

An electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) can be an effective tool in the evaluation of a possible heart attack.

How an ECG Works
An electrical impulse stimulates the muscle fibers in the heart to contract. The impulse spreads through the heart in a very organized manner. The heart's normal electrical impulse has a characteristic pattern. The ECG machine displays the pattern of the electrical impulse.

Abnormal electrical patterns on the ECG can help identify heart disease.

The ECG can identify:

AMI Heart Catheterization

Cardiac catheterization and coronary angiogram are effective tools for evaluating the patient with a heart attack.

How Heart Catheterization Works
During a cardiac catheterization, a catheter (thin plastic tube) is inserted into an artery in the groin, and then threaded up through the aorta to the heart. The catheter can be used to inject x-ray dye into the coronary arteries that supply the heart. An x-ray machine is used to take pictures of the dye inside the coronary arteries. This procedure is referred to as coronary angiography. Using these procedures doctors can detecting narrowing or obstruction of the coronary arteries.

Examples include:

AMI Thallium Stress Test

Thallium stress testing is an effective tool for evaluating the patient with possible heart attack.

How Thallium Stress Testing Works
The thallium stress test identifies areas of the heart muscle that receive reduced blood flow from narrowed or blocked coronary arteries. During the test, thallium is injected into the bloodstream. Heart muscle cells collect the thallium in the bloodstream. If blood flow is reduced through one of the coronary arteries, then the muscle cells that are supplied by that artery do not collect as much thallium as muscle cells that receive normal blood flow. A special camera is used to detect thallium in the heart muscle and a computer constructs images of the heart. The images show areas that receive reduced blood flow.

Examples:

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Last Updated: Dec 14, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed AMI References
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