What is a Stress Test?
A stress test helps your doctor determine how well your heart handles an increased workload. By measuring blood flow to the heart, the test can reveal if you are at risk for a heart attack. The test is performed in a controlled environment where heart rate, rhythm and blood pressure are monitored throughout the duration of the test.
When should you consider a Stress Test?
You should consider having a stress test if you:
- Are a smoker.
- Have a family history of heart disease.
- Have high blood pressure.
- Have high cholesterol.
- Have diabetes.
- Are overweight.
- Are experiencing chest pains.
Why do people need Stress Tests?
Stress tests can help:
- Identify causes of chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness and light-headedness.
- Check the effectiveness of certain procedures or treatments.
- Create a safe exercise plan.
- Identify any heart rhythm changes that are experienced during exercise.
- Determine your risk of heart disease or other related conditions.
What should you expect during a Stress Test?
A technician will first monitor your blood flow while at rest, and then again as you exercise on a treadmill. If you cannot exercise, your doctor may give you a medication that makes your heart respond as if you were exercising. Once the test is complete, your doctor will compare the two test results and discuss with you how the results relate to your health.
What are the risks of having a Stress Test?
An exercise stress test is noninvasive and very safe. The test will be monitored by one or more medical professionals who will stop the test if:
- You develop chest pain.
- Your blood pressure reaches a level of concern.
- The ECG shows that your heart isn’t receiving enough oxygen.
- You have a severe shortness of breath.
- You have another symptom preventing you from finishing the test.