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Cardiac Stress Test: Heart Health Check-Up
A cardiac stress test comes in varied possible forms and is performed to check for heart health, often due to symptoms that may be associated with heart problems.
Pain in the chest or upper torso, unusual or improper heart rhythms, dizziness, fainting, and shortness of breath are among reasons doctors may prescribe a heart check-up in the form of a stress test.
Stress to the heart is usually in the form of exercise in the office so that the test can better pick up on heart performance. The test is usually run for between eight and twelve minutes. Patients who demonstrate weakness or risk factors while exercising will either have the regimen slowed to a comfortable rate or the test will be stopped as needed. If the patient is unable to exercise, the heart can be stressed chemically for a test.
What may be discovered where there is a heart problem includes, but is not limited to angina (hardening of the artery walls), cholesterol build-up, pericarditis (inflammation of the sack around the heart), thickening of the heart wall, and where applicable, pacemaker performance, drug side effects and family history of coronary heart disease. Attention is especially directed to blood flow in the heart. Cardiac stress tests are usually advisable as a step to avoid heart attacks.
Cardiac Stress Test
In preparation for a cardiac stress test, if you take Beta-blocker drugs for blood pressure, do not take these on the day or morning of the exam, but increase your water intake. Also do not eat in the hour before your exam.
At Medical Imaging Center, three kinds of cardiac stress tests are performed.
In this test, the patient typically is hooked up via electrodes on the skin to a monitor and asked to walk on a treadmill or pedal on a stationary bike for set periods of time while the technician may alter instructions depending on patient response. The monitor tracks the cycles and rate of the heart, mapping results on a graph. A safe chemical agent may be used to stress the heart in patients who for one reason or another are unable to exercise physically for the test.
Similar to the EKG, the patient’s heart is monitored both at rest and under the stress of exercise unless a chemical agent is used instead of exercise, but images of blood flow to the walls of the heart are taken based on the presence of a weak radioactive substance injected prior to taking images.