Tests are done as soon as possible to look for signs of a heart attack.
An ECG records the heart's electrical activity. A healthy heart creates a specific pattern on an ECG. The pattern will change during or after a heart attack. It will show if the heart attack is:
It can also show what part of the heart is not working as it should.
Other tests will be done to confirm there was a heart attack:
Blood tests look for markers of a heart attack. Certain items are found in the blood within hours or days after a heart attack. Blood tests may need to be repeated in order to track the treatment and recovery progress.
An angiography can closely look at the blood flow through a blood vessel. A catheter is threaded through an artery in the groin or wrist. It is passed up to the arteries that feed the heart. A dye is passed through the catheter. It will highlight the blood vessels on a screen in the room. The doctor will be able to see where blood flow is reduced or blocked.
Narrowed or blocked arteries can be opened during the test. It may be pressed open with a balloon, stent, or other procedure.
Other tests will be needed to look for damage to the heart. Tests may include:
Acute coronary syndromes. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116779/Acute-coronary-syndromes. Updated March 15, 2019. Accessed March 28, 2019.
Acute myocardial infarction (MI). Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/cardiovascular-disorders/coronary-artery-disease/acute-myocardial-infarction-mi. Updated December 2018. Accessed March 28, 2019.
ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115392/ST-elevation-myocardial-infarction-STEMI. Updated July 10, 2018. Accessed March 28, 2019.
Symptoms and diagnosis of heart attack. American Heart Association website. Available at: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-attack/diagnosing-a-heart-attack. Accessed March 28, 2019.
Last reviewed March 2019 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC
Last Updated: 3/28/2019