What determines the selection of cardiac tests?

Updated: Nov 20, 2018
  • Author: Richard S Krause, MD; Chief Editor: Barry E Brenner, MD, PhD, FACEP  more...
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Noninvasive cardiac testing is used as part of a broader scheme of risk stratification for patients with possible acute coronary syndromes. Many tests exist, and each has unique advantages and disadvantages. Patient characteristics and local resources dictate which of the cardiac tests are chosen. Variability exists in how well noninvasive cardiac tests correlate with angiographic findings. Despite this variability, most of the tests are useful for determining short-term risk of myocardial infarction and cardiovascular death.

Noninvasive cardiac tests are improving as new diagnostic technologies and methods are being developed. As future studies reveal the true diagnostic characteristics and capabilities of these tests, physicians can better assess patients' risk of coronary artery disease based on their previous test results and more effectively recommend further testing and interventions.

As with all diagnostic tests, no single cardiac test is ideal. They are useful as part of a risk stratification scheme, but, with the current state of diagnostic testing, some cases of serious coronary disease will always be missed.

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