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CAD and Symptoms

Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease, affecting nearly half the adult population.

CAD develops when the coronary arteries become narrowed or blocked and cannot deliver enough oxygen-rich blood to the heart. This is usually caused by atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque in the arteries that supply blood flow to the heart. Atherosclerosis can cause chest pains or other symptoms and increase the risk of heart attack.

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The symptoms of CAD may vary in frequency and in how they present between individuals. Symptoms can happen separately or simultaneously and not all symptoms may be present. The following symptoms are the most common:
1 Chest pain or uncomfortable pressure Chevron Right icon
Angina is the medical term for pain, pressure or tightness you may feel in the middle or left side of your chest. Sometimes, it may feel like indigestion or heartburn. Symptoms typically last a few minutes and are relieved by rest or medication. It can accompany physical or emotional stress and may be an indication of CAD.
2 Pain or discomfort in one or both arms Chevron Right icon
In addition to chest pain or pressure, you may feel pain in your arms, back, shoulder, neck or jaw. In women, pain in these areas is often short-lived and sharp.
3 Shortness of breath Chevron Right icon
If you experience difficulty breathing or unusual fatigue with exertion, that may also mean your heart is not receiving enough blood through the coronary arteries.
4 Lightheadedness, nausea or a cold sweat Chevron Right icon
Breaking out in a cold sweat for no apparent reason can be a symptom of CAD. Excessive sweating may be accompanied by dizziness, light-headedness, extreme weakness or nausea.

The good news is that CAD is treatable in ways that can both relieve symptoms and lower the risk of a heart attack. Getting the correct diagnosis for your symptoms is crucial in determining the appropriate treatment.

The Way CAD is Diagnosed Today

Exercise Stress Test
Exercise Stress Test

Utilizes electrocardiography to track the heart’s electrical activity while a patient exercises – typically on a treadmill – and to understand whether the heart may have inadequate blood supply under stress.

  • + No radiation exposure
  • + Readily accessible
  • - Less accurate compared to other CAD tests1
  • - Often leads to additional testing
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SPECT Stress test
SPECT Stress test

Uses nuclear imaging to compare blood flow at rest and under exercise or medication-induced stress.

  • + Accessible and well known
  • - Low sensitivity leading to a high rate of disease that goes undetected (false negative results)2
  • - Does not provide specific information about blockages in the heart’s arteries
  • - High radiation exposure3
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Stress Echocardiogram
Stress Echocardiogram

Uses sound waves to take ultrasound images of the heart to compare performance at rest with performance under exercise or medication-induced stress.

  • + No radiation exposure
  • - Does not provide information about blockages in the heart’s arteries
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Computed Tomography (CT) Scan
Computed Tomography (CT) Scan

A CT scan uses X-rays to view the heart and blood vessels to identify narrowings that could cause blood flow restrictions..

  • + Provides very detailed images, making it easier to identify visible blockages in the blood vessels
  • + Low radiation exposure and better long-term outcomes than stress tests3.4
  • - Does not provide information on whether blood flow is actually impaired by narrowings in the heart’s arteries
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Invasive Coronary Angiogram
Invasive Coronary Angiogram (ICA)

This invasive test takes X-rays of the heart’s arteries while a catheter is inserted into the groin or wrist and threaded up to the heart to detect narrowed or blocked coronary arteries.

  • + High accuracy in ruling out CAD
  • - High radiation exposure5
  • - Invasive test, exposing risk to the patient
  • - Often unnecessary – 55% of patients who undergo an ICA do not have obstructive CAD6
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Differences

The HeartFlow Difference

Now there is a non-invasive way of diagnosing CAD with more accuracy: the HeartFlow Analysis.7 This cardiac test provides a personalized, color-coded 3D model of your coronary arteries showing how the blockages are impacting blood. The HeartFlow Analysis is the first and only non-invasive test which enables your physician to understand the impact that narrowings and blockages have on blood flow to your heart – information that otherwise would only be available with a riskier, invasive procedure.

  • Enables a more accurate diagnosis of CAD compared to other non-invasive tests7
  • Provides <1% chance of missing disease8
  • Non-invasive, therefore imposing less risk
  • Provides a streamlined experience with fewer unnecessary tests and outpatient visits6
  • No additional radiation exposure
See if the HeartFlow Analysis is right for you

How it Works

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Your doctor will order a standard CT scan of your heart to look for CAD. If the scan shows narrowings in your coronary arteries, your doctor may order a HeartFlow Analysis.
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Your doctor receives your HeartFlow Analysis – a personalized, color-coded 3D model of your coronary arteries showing how the blockages are impacting blood flow. This gives your doctor the detailed information needed to better understand the severity of disease.
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After interpreting your HeartFlow Analysis, your doctor will follow up with you to discuss the optimal next steps in your treatment plan.

Patient Stories

Find Out if the HeartFlow Analysis is Right for You

Speak to our HeartFlow representative or request a digital information kit to share with your doctor.



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The HeartFlow Analysis is a personalized cardiac test indicated for use in clinically stable symptomatic patients with coronary artery disease. The information provided by the HeartFlow Analysis is intended to be used in conjunction with the patient’s clinical history, symptoms and other diagnostic tests, as well as the clinician’s professional judgment. Patient symptoms must be documented in the patient’s medical record. While no diagnostic test is perfect, the HeartFlow Analysis has demonstrated higher diagnostic performance compared to other non-invasive cardiac tests.7 If you are a patient and suspect this test may be right for you, please speak with your doctor.

  1. Patel, et al. N Engl J Med 2010. Patel, et al. AHJ 2014.
  2. Melikian, et al. JACC: Cardiovasc Interv 2010; Jung, et al. Euro Heart J 2008. Koo, et al. J Am Coll; Cardiol 2011. Min, et al. JAMA 2012. Nørgaard, et al. J Am Coll Cardiol 2014.
  3. Stocker, et al. Euro Heart J 2018.
  4. Newby, et al. N Engl Med 2018.
  5. Partridge, J., Radiation in the cardiac catheter laboratory. Heart., 2005. 91(12): p. 1615-1620.
  6. Douglas, et al. J Am Coll Cardiol 2016.
  7. Driessen, et al. J Am Coll Cardiol 2019; Norgaard, et al, Euro J Radiol 2015.
  8. Hecht, H., et al., Should NICE guidelines be universally accepted for the evaluation of stable coronary disease? A debate. Euro Heart J 2019. DOI: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehz024.

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