About Stress Test
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What is a stress test?
This is a test that helps the doctor evaluate how well your heart functions. A stress test determines how the amount of workload the heart can handle before there is evidence of ischemia or developing an abnormal rhythm. The test is carried out as an exercise especially on the treadmill. The test helps the doctor determine what kind of exercise is right for you.Why do I need a stress test?
What is monitored during the test?
- To evaluate irregular heartbeats
- To evaluate abnormal heart rhythms
- If you are experiencing symptoms related to the heart such as difficulty breathing or chest pain.
- To determine how hard you can exercise when joining an exercise program or cardiac rehabilitation center.
- To determine if treatments given are working
- To determine if other tests such as coronary angiogram are needed.
- To determine if the blood flow is adequate flow of blood to the heart during exercise
Types of stress tests include:
- Heart rate
- Blood pressure
- Breathing pattern
- Your electrocardiogram
- How fatigued you are
- Treadmill stress test: This test is performed as you walk on a treadmill. You are monitored for any changes in ECG and chest pains. This test is usually performed if you are able to walk.
- Adenosine or Dobutamine stress test: This test is performed on people who cannot exercise. A drug is given to stimulate the heart and simulate exercise. The doctor is able to evaluate the heart ad if it is under exercise while it is not.
- Stress echocardiogram: This is a test that displays a graphic outline of the heart’s movement. It is often called ‘echo’. The echo can visualize the heart’s pumping action when the heart is under stress. The stress echocardiogram can evaluate and reveal a lack of blood flow that is not evident on other tests.
Nuclear stress test: This test evaluates the heart and helps determine which parts are not functioning properly. A safe amount of radioactive substance is injected into the body and a special camera used to locate the rays emitted. Images are then displayed on a monitor. The test is done while at rest and while exercising.What happens during the test?
Your chest area is cleaned and small electrodes are placed on it. The electrodes are small sticky flat patches that are attached to an electrocardiograph monitor (EKG or ECG). This charts your heart’s electrical activity while at rest and during the exercise test.
You walk slowly on the treadmill or pedal on a stationary bicycle. Gradually the degree of difficulty is increased until you feel exhausted.
At regular intervals, the doctor and technician will ask how tired you are feeling and if you are experiencing ant discomfort.
After the test is complete you will cool own by continuing the exercise for a few minutes. Your blood pressure and heart rate will be mitered until they return t normal.
How long does the test take?
The test generally lasts for one hour. However, the actual exercise time is between 5-10minutes. If a nuclear stress test is performed it could last for 4 hours. This is to allow the radioactive substance to flow through the body.How do I prepare for a stress test?
- Inform your doctor of any medication you are taking.
- Do not eat or drink anything except water or at least 4 hours before the test.
- Wear comfortable clothes and shoes.
- If you use an inhaler bring it to the test.
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