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Heart Tests: When Do You Need Them? - Topic Overview

Heart tests can help your doctor find out if you are at risk for a heart problem, if you have a heart problem, and what treatment you need.

There are many heart tests. Most are noninvasive, which means that your doctor does not insert a device into your body for the test. Many of the tests provide still or moving images of your heart and blood vessels.

These tests help doctors find out what's causing new symptoms, such as discomfort in the chest, shortness of breath, or irregular heartbeats. They can also help your doctor:

  • Check your heart's electrical system.
  • Check your pacemaker or other implanted device.
  • See if your heart can handle more exercise.
  • Check how well your heart valves are working.
  • Look for problems with the structure of your heart.

Heart tests can be appropriate for a healthy person. This happens when a personal history or physical exam points to risk for a heart problem.

You may have the chance to help decide if a test is right for you. Talk with your doctor to make that decision.

Noninvasive tests

Noninvasive tests do not require a doctor to insert a device into your body. You may need an injection of a medicine during the test. Many of these tests are imaging tests that provide still or moving pictures of your heart.

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