Stress Testing Specialist Q&A
If you are experiencing heart problems and your doctor has ordered you a stress test, call Express Healthcare today and schedule your stress test now! We have convenient locations in College Park MD, New Carrollton MD, Falls Church VA, and Berwyn Height, MD to serve you.
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Stress tests are used to evaluate whether your heart is functioning effectively while you exercise. It also evaluates how your heart responds when you’re at rest. A stress test may include various tests, including an exercise stress test (walking on a treadmill) and a pharmacological stress test (taking medicine). The type of stress test performed depends on your condition and the reason for performing the test.
You’ll be asked to walk on a treadmill in an exercise stress test. Your heart rate, blood pressure, and ECG will be monitored during this time. In a pharmacological stress test, you’ll be asked to rest for about 10 to 20 minutes. Then, a medication that stimulates the heart will be injected into your vein. Again, your heart rate, blood pressure, and ECG will be monitored to determine the effect (amount of stress) that the medication causes on your heart muscle.
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In a stress test, the treadmill speed increases until you reach a pace that makes it hard to breathe. Some people stop the test because they have chest or leg pain. Sometimes, your doctor stops it because of changes in your electrocardiogram (ECG) or blood pressure. The goal of the test is to exercise until you can’t go any farther.
A positive stress test means that some of the changes in the heart muscle and blood vessels during exercise did not reverse after the activity stopped. This can suggest that the heart muscle may not be getting enough oxygenated blood. This finding would support a diagnosis of coronary artery disease (CAD).
A positive stress test result means you have signs of coronary artery disease (CAD). This includes:
• Chest pain or discomfort during exercise or within 5 minutes of stopping.
• Blood pressure drops below a certain level during exercise or within 5 minutes of stopping.
You will be asked to walk on a treadmill for approximately 5 to 15 minutes during a stress test. The test begins slowly, increases speed, and inclines every two to three minutes. Your heart rate, blood pressure, and ECG (electrical tracing of your heart) will be monitored during this time. You may also be required to blow into a tube to measure oxygen levels while you are exercising.
The stress test is usually done with an ECG machine, which records the heart’s electrical activity. The test detects abnormalities in the heart’s rhythm and structure that can cause heart failure or cardiac arrest.
The stress test is typically done by a cardiologist or other healthcare professional specializing in heart problems. It’s often recommended if you’ve experienced shortness of breath or chest pain or if your doctor suspects that you may have any heart conditions.
Most of the time, if you fail a stress test, we will follow up with another test. Sometimes, the second time around, we can find a way to get your heart rate up and your heart pumping. Sometimes, it is because you were unable to reach an adequate heart rate during the stress portion of the treadmill. This can be due to many reasons:
1. Lack of fitness.
2. Fatigue due to lack of sleep.
3. Pain in the leg that prevents you from running on the treadmill at a higher intensity.
4. Low blood sugar causes light-headedness or feeling nauseous.
5. Breathing problems related to asthma or allergies.
Whatever the reason, if this happens to you, don’t worry. It does not mean that anything is wrong with your heart. Your doctor will repeat the test to make a proper diagnosis. We serve patients from College Park MD, New Carrollton MD, Berwyn Height MD, Falls Church VA, Acredale MD, and Old Town MD.