A cardiac stress test can be a useful indicator for heart disease. The majority of stress tests use a combination of exercise and heart monitoring to determine how well the heart muscle functions as it becomes increasingly stressed. A trained medical professional always monitors the patient during the stress test and will track the results carefully throughout the appointment.
For the typical cardiac stress test, the patient will be hooked up to a heart monitor using special stickers across the chest and back. This monitor will display a heart rate and blood pressure reading along with an electrocardiogram reading. The electrocardiogram shows the heart’s rhythm.
At our clinic in NJ, a stress test can be done with a treadmill, an echocardiogram, or a combination of the two. It can also be done with a radioactive tracer. Our doctor will monitor to see when the heart rate, heart rhythm, or blood pressure changes significantly enough to show a problem.
A stress test can be incredibly beneficial in showing us the following information about the patient:
• Whether or not heart disease exists
• How well cardiac medications are working
• Whether the patient has an abnormal heart rhythm
• Whether the heart receives enough blood flow when it is working hard
• Why the patient is experiencing heart palpitations, chest pain or other uncomfortable symptoms
• How hard the patient can safely exercise if starting a new exercise regimen
The type of stress test used will depend on the patient’s ability to exercise. The stress echocardiogram uses a different type of monitoring during the test rather than an electrocardiogram. The nuclear stress test uses an injectable radioactive substance to show how well the heart works when at rest and when exercising.
Stress tests are highly beneficial for patients who have been experiencing some of the signs and symptoms of heart disease, such as increased blood pressure, chest or arm pain, shortness of breath, heart murmurs or heart palpitations. The test can show problematic areas that need to be resolved or can help set minds at ease if no problems are found.
Stress tests are also highly recommended for patients who have a genetic history of heart disease or who have numerous risk factors for cardiac disease. Smokers over the age of 40 should definitely have stress tests. Regular tests can show progressions of disease or can show changes in heart health. Stress tests should be performed approximately every two to three years or more often in people who are having cardiovascular symptoms.
Be sure to check with us for instructions before your stress test. You may be asked to stop eating several hours before the test and may need to refrain from taking certain medications before the test. Comfortable clothes and shoes are vital for the traditional exercise stress test.
To ensure your cardiovascular health is at its best, our experts at Cardiac Associates of North Jersey can schedule a comprehensive cardiovascular stress test for you. Contact our office in Oakland, NJ to get started.