Recent Blog Articles

Heart Health

Heart tests before surgery: When are they necessary?

May 1, 2020

Most people don't need an electrocardiogram before a minor, low-risk procedure. Major surgery is different.

07d32763-2b8b-47f5-bc79-86697093db90

If you've ever had surgery, you may recall having a preoperative evaluation, sometimes referred to as "clearance" for surgery. These check-ups often occur days or weeks prior to a planned, non-cardiac surgery and typically involve a physical exam. You also may get blood tests, x-rays, and an electrocardiogram (ECG) — a quick, painless test that records your heart's electrical activity.

"These evaluations are designed to assess your chances of experiencing a heart-related problem during the surgery," says Dr. Brendan Everett, director of the general cardiology inpatient service at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital. The term "clearance" is misleading, as there is no way to guarantee you won't have complications. Still, knowing ahead of time about any heart-related risks you may have enables the surgeon to better prepare for possible complications and have a backup plan available, says Dr. Everett.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.

Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.

  • 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 »

I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.

Sign Me Up

Already a member? Login ».

Disclaimer:

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Thanks for visiting. Don't miss your FREE gift.

The Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness, is yours absolutely FREE when you sign up to receive Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Sign up to get tips for living a healthy lifestyle, with ways to fight inflammation and improve cognitive health, plus the latest advances in preventative medicine, diet and exercise, pain relief, blood pressure and cholesterol management, and more.

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Get helpful tips and guidance for everything from fighting inflammation to finding the best diets for weight loss...from exercises to build a stronger core to advice on treating cataracts. PLUS, the latest news on medical advances and breakthroughs from Harvard Medical School experts.

BONUS! Sign up now and
get a FREE copy of the
Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Stay on top of latest health news from Harvard Medical School.

Plus, get a FREE copy of the Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness.