Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)

Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) Lab Tests and health information

CAD is the most common type of heart disease. Learn more about risk factors, symptoms, and how you can get lab tests for coronary artery disease here. Check out our lab panels to understand your risk for coronary artery disease. These lab panels can provide a complete picture of the various factors impacting your risk of heart disease. The tests for coronary artery disease can give you an accurate reading of your risk of heart and blood vessel disease, with results sent confidentially online in 24 to 48 hours. Order from Ulta Lab Tests today!

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Through the years, we've all heard about the dangers of heart disease. The most common form is coronary artery disease, and it affects about 18.2 million adult Americans. 

We all want to avoid this threat. If we suspect that we're at risk, early diagnosis can lead to effective management of the disease. That's where lab tests for coronary artery disease come in.

Let's take a deeper look at this cardiovascular disease and how to combat it. 

What Is Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)?

The coronary arteries are major blood vessels that supply the heart. Coronary artery disease occurs when these blood vessels become diseased. The disease is usually a combination of plaque in the arteries and inflammation.

Coronary artery disease doesn't happen overnight, and you may not experience any symptoms for years. But if left untreated, narrowing and blockages will develop, which greatly increases your risk of a heart attack and stroke.

Risk factors for Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is key to slowing the progression of coronary artery disease. There are several risk factors for coronary artery disease, including the following: 

  • high LDL cholesterol 
  • low HDL cholesterol 
  • high blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • smoking
  • age - postmenopausal and men over 45

The American Heart Association also highlights obesity as a risk factor for developing CAD. While everyone is at risk of developing heart problems, African Americans are at higher risk of developing heart disease.

Elevated blood sugar also increases the risk of CAD. There is a risk that coronary artery disease can develop into coronary heart disease. The earlier a person starts to take preventative measures, the better the chances of it regressing.

Causes of Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)

CAD is caused by damage or injury to the inner part of the coronary arteries. This can start in childhood. Causes include the following:

  • high blood pressure
  • insulin resistance or diabetes
  • sedentary lifestyle
  • high cholesterol
  • smoking

The injury or damage site provides a place for plaque to develop. Plaque occurs when cholesterol, white blood cells, and other substances build up in the walls of the arteries. They become narrow and hard over time, restricting the blood flow to the heart muscle. 

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)?

At first, the narrowing of the arteries may not cause any symptoms. Over time, as the blood vessels continue to narrow, it becomes harder for the oxygen-rich blood to reach the heart muscle.

Symptoms may include the following:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Angina (chest pain)
  • Heart attack

Shortness of breath occurs when your heart is struggling to pump enough blood to keep up with your body's needs. Doing normal activities may begin to cause shortness of breath and fatigue.

Chest pain or angina occurs when you are stressed or have exerted yourself. You feel the pain in the middle or left side of your chest. It can be a tightness or crushing pain.

When the artery becomes completely blocked, a heart attack will happen. The usual symptoms are crushing pressure in the chest, and pain in your shoulder or arm. Other symptoms can occur, and at times there are no symptoms.

How Is Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) Diagnosed?

The first step is to have a discussion and physical exam with your doctor. They will discuss your symptoms, family history, medical history, and other risk factors. 

The next step is to have diagnostic tests and lab tests for coronary artery disease.

Diagnostic tests include the following:

  • Electrocardiogram
  • Echocardiogram
  • Angiogram
  • Exercise stress tests

They will look at your heart rate, rhythm, and electrical impulses. Blood tests also provide a clearer picture of what is happening in your heart.

The Lab Tests to Screen, Diagnose, and Monitor Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)

There is more than one lab test for coronary artery disease. All of these together give a complete picture of the various factors impacting your risk of heart disease. 

  • Advanced Cardiovascular Health - Basic - This panel of tests focuses on assessing the levels of cholesterol in the body. This will help your doctor to see whether LDL and HDL cholesterol are at healthy levels in the body.
  • Advanced Cardiovascular Health - Basic Plus - Along with the basic tests, this panel takes a deeper look at metabolic and endocrine health. Issues with insulin impacting cardiovascular health are examined.
  • Advanced Cardiovascular Health - Advanced - This panel takes a deeper look at metabolic health. The Hemoglobin A1c reveals the body's insulin levels over the last few months. Additionally, the C reactive protein assessment shows the levels of inflammation in the body.
  • Advanced Cardiovascular Health - Comprehensive - This panel additionally investigates thyroid health. Hypothyroidism is associated with atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease. 

Once you have completed these lab tests for coronary artery disease, it's important to review them with your doctor. They will be able to advise the best course of treatment or provide lifestyle advice to get your numbers moving in the right direction. These tests can also be used to monitor the disease after diagnosis.

What lab test can help to diagnose CAD? High-sensitivity CRP (hs-CRP) test is crucial. This can help you to identify the risk of coronary artery disease even before you develop any symptoms. The higher your levels, the greater the risk of cardiovascular disease

Frequently Asked Questions about Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) and Lab Testing for Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary artery disease is common. Many people have questions about how to prevent or live with this disease. Some of the most common questions asked are:

  • Can you live a full life with CAD?

The answer is yes. It is not curable but can be treated. The key is to reduce your risk factors.

  • How does CAD impact daily life?

You can develop chest pain when doing daily activities, especially exercising. You may feel more tired, as it's more difficult for the body to supply the cells with oxygen.

Book Your Lab Tests for Coronary Artery Disease!

Lab tests for coronary artery disease can give your doctor a clearer picture of the state of your cardiovascular health. Don't delay, as early testing can lead to better treatment. The earlier you make lifestyle adjustments, the better the long-term outcomes.

Benefits of Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) Lab Testing With Ulta Lab Tests 

Ulta Lab Tests offers lab tests for coronary artery disease that are highly accurate and reliable so you can make informed decisions about your health. Here are a few great things to love about Ulta Lab Tests:

  • You'll get secure and confidential results
  • You don't need health insurance
  • You don't need a physician's referral
  • You'll get affordable pricing
  • We offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee

Order your coronary artery disease lab tests today and your results will be provided to you securely and confidentially online in 24 to 48 hours for most tests.

Take control with Ulta Lab Tests today!

 Angina is the term used for a type of chest pain, which is mainly caused by a lack of supply of oxygen and blood flow to the individual’s heart. Over 7 million residents in the U.S. are believed to have this condition. It is typically linked with arteries that have started to narrow, which is typical in coronary artery diseases. The narrowing occurs when plaques begin to accumulate (thickening of the linings) inside the arteries, which is caused by the process known as atherosclerosis. When a person has angina, their heart might be getting an adequate supply of blood to accommodate daily activities, but these arteries are usually unable to deliver enough oxygen and blood during the stages of increasing demands, such as physical or emotional stress, exercise, and temperature extremes.  

Angina comes in 3 main types: 

1. Stable Angina 

This condition is typically characterized by patterns of common symptoms and stages of discomfort or pain that usually happen during exercise or when the affected person is stressed. This type of discomfort typically subsides with rest or/and treatment using nitroglycerin of other appropriate medications. Most people that suffer from this angina type can generally live a normal life over several years, yet others will progress gradually or rapidly onto unstable angina. Stable angina is the type that is linked to the gradual accumulation of plaque, which is mainly made up of fibrosis (scar tissue).  

2. Unstable Angina 

With this condition, an acute coronary syndrome that goes along with it can include a heart attack. This type is characterized by pattern changes in the angina episodes. This typically means that the episodes occur more frequently even at rest, or/and are no longer responding to medications or treatments. This is typically the sign that the individual’s condition has gotten worse. The pain and discomfort that the person experiences with this type of angina are often more prolonged and severe when compared to stable angina. The individuals that have unstable angina are also at an increased risk when it comes to cardiac arrest, critical cardiac arrhythmia, and heart attacks. This condition is classified as one of the acute emergencies that should always be treated and evaluated as soon as possible. Unstable angina is also characterized by plaques that contain higher amounts of debris and lipids when compared to the plaque found in the people diagnosed with stable angina. If these materials start leaking into the surrounding vessels, clots will form. 

3. Prinzmetal’s Angina (Variant Angina) 

This condition typically occurs at night, almost always during rest periods. The main cause is linked to when the coronary artery spasms. Most people that have variant angina will also have critical atherosclerosis in one or more of the main blood vessels on their hearts. It also occurs but a lot less frequently in individuals with hypertension (uncontrolled high blood pressure) or heart valve disease. It may also be seen in people that abuse methamphetamines and cocaine. This angina type occurs when the arteries spasm, which briefly narrows them without causing any permanent damages.  

Symptoms and Signs 

The symptoms associated with angina often appear, followed by either disappearing or not disappearing when at rest. The person might experience chest pain, pressure, and/or discomfort, or experience what is known as referred pain. This type of pain is usually felt in areas such as the jaw, back, arm, or left shoulder.  

Angina can be more complicated to identify in older people when they are suffering from a symptom like abdominal pain directly after eating (caused by an increase in blood demand to accommodate digestion) or when they have shoulder or back pain (that might be caused by arthritis).  

The level of activities that are needed to trigger angina episodes and the symptoms that are involved vary from one person to the next and can also vary over time and between each episode. Coronary artery disease is usually progressive, which means that angina can worsen overtime when it comes to symptoms that are more severe, episodes that become more frequent, or/and less responsive when it comes to treatment and rest.  

Tests for Angina 

The main aim when it comes to testing for this condition is to differentiate between: 

  • Chest pains that are not related to the heart, like the type that is caused by skeletal muscle injuries.  
  • Chest pain that is caused by angina that is treatable and not by heart damage. 
  • When a person lands up in an ER (emergency room) with a coronary syndrome that is acute, which is a symptom group that suggests that the heart is injured.  
  • Chest pain caused by a heart attack. 

All the above symptoms result in evaluating the person with different types of non-laboratory and laboratory tests. These are typically used to establish what is causing the pain, along with how severe the condition is. Since certain treatments for heart attacks must be administered very quickly to lower damage to the heart, a precise diagnose must be confirmed as fast as possible.  

Laboratory Tests for Angina 

Cardiac biomarkers are the proteins that release when the muscle cells become damaged are usually ordered in order to help distinguish heart attacks from angina. These will include: 

This is the most common cardiac-specific ordered marker. The levels of troponin in the blood will remain elevated after the first few hours of damage to the heart and stay raised for as long as two weeks. Troponin tests are typically ordered in the ER when the person is presenting with symptoms linked to unstable angina, followed by more tests over the following hours to detect concentration changes. If the levels remain normal, then the chest pain and symptoms are less likely from damaged heart muscles and more from pain caused by stable angina. An elevation or/and fall in troponin level results is usually an indication of a heart attack.  

The test known as high-sensitivity troponin is used to detect the same proteins that standard tests do but at far lower levels. This test is much more sensitive, which means it shows a positive result much sooner and can help to establish acute coronary syndrome and heart injury a lot earlier than the standard tests. The hs-troponin test can also show positive results in individuals that have stable angina as well as in individuals that are showing no symptoms.  

When the levels are raised in these people, it is an indication of increased risks for a future heart event, such as a heart attack. This test is not approved currently in the United States, yet research continues, which means it might soon become available. This test is routinely used in Canada, Europe, along with other countries as the cardiac biomarker across many clinical practices.  

A specific type of enzyme, creatine kinase, which is mainly found in the heart muscle, will rise when damages have occurred to the cells in the heart muscle. This is a test that is now used a lot less frequently.  

Other tests that are commonly performed include: 

  • Myoglobin This is a protein that releases into the bloodstream when the skeletal muscle or the heart is injured. This is also a test that is not used as often anymore.  
  • Nt-proBNP or BNP The body releases BNP in response to a condition such as heart failure. When BNP levels increase, while it is not diagnostic for heart attacks, it does indicate increased risks of cardiac issues in people that have acute coronary syndrome.  

Other screening tests that are more general are also commonly ordered to assist with evaluating the main organs in the person’s body, blood glucose, electrolyte balance, white and red blood cells to establish if there is any deficiencies, excesses, or dysfunction that could be contributing to making the individual’s symptoms worse.

These can include: 

This typically includes a group of 14 tests used as a type screening tool to establish the current state of the person’s electrolyte and base/acid balance, blood proteins, liver, kidneys, and blood glucose.  

This test is typically used for screening for several disorders that may affect the blood cells, like an infection or anemia.