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Introduction to Diagnosis of Heart and Blood Vessel Disorders

By

Thomas Cascino

, MD, MSc, Michigan Medicine, University of Michigan;


Michael J. Shea

, MD, Michigan Medicine at the University of Michigan

Last full review/revision Jul 2021| Content last modified Jul 2021
Click here for the Professional Version

Diagnostic procedures can be

  • Noninvasive

  • Minimally invasive

Noninvasive tests do not require an incision or a needle puncture other than sometimes a blood draw or a standard short intravenous (IV) catheter placed into a vein in the arm. These tests include

Fluoroscopy (a procedure that uses continuous x-rays) is used infrequently. Blood tests to measure levels of sugar (to test for diabetes), cholesterol, and other substances are often done to look for disorders that can cause heart disease.

Minimally invasive testing typically requires a long flexible catheter, which is inserted into a blood vessel in the wrist, neck or thigh and advanced inside of the blood vessel to the heart. These tests include

Most of these procedures carry very small risk, but the risk increases with the complexity of the procedure, the severity of the heart disorder, and the severity of any other medical conditions the person has.

Sometimes treatments can be given during certain minimally invasive diagnostic tests. For example, percutaneous coronary intervention Percutaneous Coronary Intervention Coronary artery disease is a condition in which the blood supply to the heart muscle is partially or completely blocked. The heart muscle needs a constant supply of oxygen-rich blood. The coronary... read more Percutaneous Coronary Intervention for people with coronary artery disease Overview of Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) Coronary artery disease is a condition in which the blood supply to the heart muscle is partially or completely blocked. The heart muscle needs a constant supply of oxygen-rich blood. The coronary... read more Overview of Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) may be done during cardiac catheterization Cardiac catheterization Cardiac catheterization and coronary angiography are minimally invasive methods of studying the heart and the blood vessels that supply the heart (coronary arteries) without doing surgery. These... read more Cardiac catheterization and radiofrequency ablation Destroying abnormal tissue (ablation) Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) are sequences of heartbeats that are irregular, too fast, too slow, or conducted via an abnormal electrical pathway through the heart. Heart disorders are... read more Destroying abnormal tissue (ablation) for people with abnormal heart rhythms Overview of Abnormal Heart Rhythms Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) are sequences of heartbeats that are irregular, too fast, too slow, or conducted via an abnormal electrical pathway through the heart. Heart disorders are... read more Overview of Abnormal Heart Rhythms may be done during electrophysiologic testing Electrophysiologic Testing Electrophysiologic testing is used to evaluate serious abnormalities in heart rhythm or electrical conduction (see Overview of Abnormal Heart Rhythms). In people in whom an arrhythmia is already... read more .

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