The examination of a patient with angina pectoris begins with clinical assessment. Certain clinical findings that are present only during angina, such as mitral regurgitation due to ischemia-induced papillary muscle dysfunction, may clarify an otherwise uncertain diagnosis. Electrocardiography is a useful and relatively inexpensive test for detecting evidence of ischemia in patients with suspected angina. The presence of cardiomegaly on the chest roentgenogram has adverse prognostic implications. Exercise stress testing is important in the diagnosis of coronary artery disease and also provides prognostic information. Patients should be classified into high-, intermediate-, or low-risk subsets by noninvasive techniques. Although relatively easy and inexpensive, treadmill exercise stress testing cannot be performed in all patients, and sometimes it will yield equivocal results. In these cases, radionuclide testing (with thallium scintigraphy or radionuclide angiography) can be helpful and also can identify high-risk patients. Some patients will require coronary angiography.
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