Choosing an appropriate heart test

Ask the doctor

Q. My friend, who has a family history of heart disease, recently had chest pains. The doctor ordered an exercise stress test on a treadmill, which was normal. His daughter insisted on a cardio PET scan, which showed that he needed triple bypass surgery. He had the surgery and is doing well and has no more chest pain. If stress tests aren't conclusive, why use them? How can people make sure they're getting the best information about their hearts?

A. People who are having chest pain at rest or rapidly worsening chest pain (known as unstable angina) need to be evaluated in an emergency department. However, people who have so-called stable angina (their chest pain occurs during certain activities and then goes away when they rest) are usually evaluated in a clinic or doctor's office.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »