If you think you might have a heart problem, your doctor will order a series of tests to find out what might be causing your symptoms and make a plan for your treatment.\nSymptoms of Heart-related Conditions\nHeart-related symptoms can include:\n\nChest pain\nShortness of breath\nPalpitations, or a fluttering in your chest or a feeling of skipped heartbeats\nFatigue, or feeling very tired\nDry cough\nAnxiety\nSwelling of your feet or ankles\nFast weight gain\n\nIn some cases, symptoms can be mild and harmless; for example, you might feel palpitations if you’re nervous or stressed. In other cases, symptoms can be severe, and even life-threatening. If you think you or someone you know has a life-threatening condition, like a heart attack, aortic aneurysm, or aortic dissection, call 9-1-1 right away.\nEven if your symptoms are mild, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor. Before your visit, you’ll want to write down your symptoms and when they happen, as well as all of the over-the-counter and prescription medicines you take.\nCardiac Imaging and Other Heart Tests\nDuring your visit, your doctor will take your blood pressure, listen to your heart and lungs, and talk with you about your symptoms. After your check-up, your doctor might want to order blood tests and basic diagnostic tests to learn more, depending on your symptoms and medical history. These tests might include:\n\nBlood tests\nElectrocardiogram (EKG)\nHolter monitor test\nEchocardiogram\nStress test\n\nBlood tests\nBlood tests can check the amount of different chemicals, enzymes, and other substances in your blood, from cholesterol and sugar to potassium and calcium. Having too little or too much of some substances can cause or be a sign of some health problems. Your doctor will tell you if you should fast \u2013 or not have anything to eat or drink \u2013 before your blood tests.\nElectrocardiogram (EKG)\nAn electrocardiogram, or EKG, is a fast, painless test that measures your heart’s rhythm and can show if your heartbeat is regular or irregular. An EKG usually takes just a few minutes and can be done in your doctor’s office. You don’t need to do anything special to get ready for this test.\nHolter monitor test\nA Holter monitor test is a type of EKG that measures your heart’s rhythm over the course of 24 to 48 hours while you go about your daily routine. The test can pick up any irregular rhythms that might not show up during a regular EKG. During the test, sticky patches called electrodes will be placed on your chest. To get ready, you should wear loose-fitting clothing to keep the electrodes from coming loose.\nEchocardiogram (ECG)\nAn echocardiogram, also called an echo or an ECG, is a test that uses sound waves to make moving pictures of your heart to show if its walls, valves, and the amount of blood it pumps out are normal. This test usually takes about 30-60 minutes and can be done in a doctor’s office or hospital. You don’t need to do anything special to get ready for this test.\nStress test\nA stress test shows your doctor how well your heart works during activity. During the test, you exercise or get medicine to make your heart work harder. Some stress tests can include pictures of your heart before and after activity. There are different types of stress tests, so your doctor will tell you how to get ready for the kind that you have.\nTest Results\nWhen your test results are in, your doctor will go over them with you and explain what they mean. Most test results take about one week.\nIf your test results are normal, your doctor might suggest lifestyle changes that can make your symptoms easier to manage; for example, if you have palpitations when you feel stressed, your doctor might suggest healthy ways to help you cope.\nIf your results are not normal, your doctor will make a treatment plan based on your specific needs that might include lifestyle changes, medicines, or procedures.\nIf you have symptoms of a heart problem, visit the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute or contact us at 1-855-UPMC-HVI (876-2484).\u00a0You can also attend a free heart screening to gain more understanding of your risk factors.