Monday, June 24, 2024

Do you need a heart test? Don’t be scared, it could save your life

If your doctor suspects something may not be working quite right in your heart, there are common tests that they could recommend to check everything is OK.

These tests can sound confusing or scary, but they are not painful, they can help your doctor understand what is going on with your heart and could add years to your life.

ECGs, echocardiograms and cardiac stress tests are three of the main, straightforward and painless ways to find out whether your heart is healthy or not.


An electrocardiograph (ECG) is the most common test for heart conditions and measures the electrical activity of the heart onto paper through sticky electrodes which are placed on your chest, arms and legs.

There is no pain involved and the test gives your doctor a snapshot of how well your heart is beating and can also give an idea of how healthy the muscles in the top and bottom chambers of the heart are. It’s a very useful, quick and painless test that can be done in a hospital or in your doctor’s rooms.

Echocardiogram (Echo)

An echocardiogram or an ultrasound of your heart is known as a gold standard test because it can give your doctor a lot of information about your heart. It’s a painless procedure that takes pictures to show how healthy your heart is, the size and shape of the heart, how all of the walls of the heart are moving and how well the blood is flowing across the valves in your heart to the rest of your body. It only takes around 20 minutes and can be done in a hospital or in a private cardiology practice.

Cardiac stress test

Cardiac stress tests can sound stressful but they are used to see if your heart can keep up when put under mild stress. Also called exercise or treadmill tests, they are commonly used to find evidence of blockages in the arteries of the heart.

They’re non-invasive — require no surgery or needles — are as easy as walking up a slight hill on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike and can be done in a doctor’s office. For people with chest pain this test can determine whether the problem is heart related. Stress tests can also be used to evaluate heart risk before a surgery or after a heart attack.

Being pro-active with your heart health and getting checked out if you suspect something is wrong is the best way to help your doctor identify potential problems early so you can get the treatment you need.

© 2023 Edwards Lifesciences Corporation. All rights reserved NZ-2023-048

More articles