By talking to a patient and examining the heart with hands, eyes, ears and stethoscope a Cardiologist can usually get a pretty good idea if there is anything wrong and if so what it is. Most patients will then need some tests to confirm the clinical impression or further investigate. For some patients their investigations will be normal and reassuring. For those in which we do find a heart problem – knowledge is power – making the right diagnosis means we can treat the condition and in many situations reduce the risk to that patient.
There is often a choice of investigations for a particular symptom – especially for chest pain. I believe that this choice should be tailored to the individual and their situation and make a point of involving patients in these decisions.