Man clutching chest in need of emergency heart care in Houston, TX

How Does The ER Check For Heart Problems?

09 Jun 2023

Your heart is one of the most vital organs in your body. You should address any heart issue immediately, regardless of how mild or severe it might be. Thus, visiting the ER for a heart issue could be the difference between saving a life and death.

Memorial Village ER is vital in providing immediate medical care for heart treatment in Houston. In this article, let’s discuss when you should go to the ER for heart problems and what to expect upon arriving at the emergency room near you.

When to Go to the ER for Heart Issues

Seeking immediate or urgent medical care for heart problems is crucial to ensure you receive reliable and prompt medical care to ensure the best possible outcome. A minute without the necessary medical intervention could result in long-term complications and even death.

Common signs and symptoms that should prompt you to visit an emergency room or walk-in clinic near you include:

  • Chest pain

Chest pain can refer to mild to severe pain felt along the chest, usually between your upper abdomen and neck. Generally, chest pain can result from numerous factors that may not even be related to the heart, like indigestion. However, serious symptoms like persistent, burning, sharp, or severe chest pain, dizziness, loss of consciousness, nausea, and shortness of breath often indicate a serious heart problem or attack.

  • Shortness of breath

Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath is often a heart attack or failure symptom and requires immediate medical attention. In most cases, shortness of breath is accompanied by dizziness, loss of consciousness, and chest pain. It can be felt when resting, during activity, and lying flat on the back.

  • Loss of consciousness or fainting

Sudden loss of consciousness or fainting can indicate a heart problem. Heart problems can cause decreased blood flow to the brain, leading to unconsciousness or fainting. Cardiac syncope refers to a loss of consciousness due to a heart defect.

  • Rapid or Irregular Heartbeat

When the heart dysfunctions, it may be unable to pump blood normally, resulting in a rapid or irregular heartbeat. It may cause you to feel like your heart is racing or throbbing, which could indicate arrhythmia (a condition characterized by irregular heart rate or rhythm). In some cases, an irregular heartbeat can resolve on its own. However, seek emergency medical care if it persists or accompanies other serious symptoms like chest pains, dizziness, or shortness of breath.

  • Sudden weakness, discomfort, or fatigue

Fatigue, general weakness, or body discomfort can result from many factors which may not even be related to the heart. Unexplainable, sudden, persistent, or severe weakness, fatigue, or discomfort could indicate something serious like a heart problem. Emergency medical care may be necessary to determine the cause and prevent long-term complications.

What to expect when you arrive ER for heart problems treatment

Once you arrive in the ER for heart problems, you can expect the following steps:

  • Assessment: The medical team will assess your symptoms to determine the cause and severity of your condition. Since the ER is about saving lives, the most severe cases are often prioritized.
  • Medical history and physical exam: The healthcare provider will review your medical history and perform a physical exam to understand your situation better. The doctor can ask about your:
    • Current symptoms
    • Past and present heart or health problems
    • Lifestyle habits like smoking, alcohol use, or recreational drug use
    • Current medications, both prescription and over-the-counter
    • Herbal or dietary supplements you’re taking
    • Existing allergies
  • Diagnostic testing: If the doctor suspects your symptoms may be heart-related, they can recommend various diagnostic tests to check for heart issues and determine the most appropriate treatment. These tests can include:
    • An electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) to test for heart attack, abnormal heart rhythms, and other heart problems
    • Electrocardiographic (EKG) to check for abnormal heart rhythms or arrhythmias
    • Blood tests to check for heart attack
    • Chest X-rays show the condition of the heart and lungs. It helps the doctor to identify issues like fluid buildup in the lungs or an enlarged heart.
    • Stress tests like exercising on a treadmill to check for decreased blood flow to the heart or abnormal heartbeat by exertion.
    • Cardiac catheterization is a more invasive diagnostic test that involves inserting a catheter (thin, flexible tube) in a blood vessel to the heart. It helps check for abnormal blood flow to the heart or blockages.
  • Treatment: Based on your condition and symptoms, the ER can provide the following treatments for heart problems:
  • Medications
  • Oxygen Therapy
  • Cardiac monitoring
  • Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI)
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Defibrillation


Seeking emergency medical care for heart problems is essential to ensure immediate intervention and a positive outcome. If you or your loved one have heart issues, visit an ER or urgent facility near you or call 911 for immediate medical care. Do not drive yourself as you can develop new complications, resulting in an accident and further complications. Bring along your insurance card and medical file.

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