A stress test or exercise test indicates how the heart works during physical activity. Exercise makes your heart pump faster, and a stress test can show problems with blood flow in the heart. Your blood and heart rhythm are monitored during a stress test while walking on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike. Stress testing in Covington is performed by a team of cardiologists that understand your chest pain, shortness of breath, and other heart-related symptoms. In this article, we will learn more about stress testing.
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Why Stress Testing Is Done
Your cardiologist can recommend an exercise stress test to:
- Diagnose arrhythmias. Heart rhythm problems occur when electrical signals coordinating the heartbeat don’t work correctly. Heart arrhythmia can cause your heart to beat irregularly, too fast, and too slow.
- Diagnose coronary artery disease. The coronary artery is the primary vessel that supplies the heart with oxygen, blood, and nutrients. When these arteries are diseased or damaged, coronary artery disease develops primarily due to the buildup of fat deposits.
- Guide heart disorders treatment. If you have been diagnosed with a heart condition before, a stress test can be used to determine if your current treatment is effective. The results help your doctor decide on the best treatment plan for you.
What to Expect
A stress test takes about one hour for prep time and the actual test. You usually walk on a treadmill or ride a stationary bicycle for 15 minutes during a basic test. If you are not in a good position to exercise, you are given a drug through an IV that shows the effect of exercise on your heart.
Before a stress test
Your cardiologist will ask questions about how often you exercise, the intensity of the exercise, and your medical history. This helps your doctor determine the amount of activity appropriate for you during the test. Your doctor also listens to the lungs and heart to identify any problem affecting the results.
During a stress test
Your doctor places sticky patches on your chest, arms and legs. Your body hair is shaved if necessary to help them stick. Wires connect these patches to a computer that records the electrical activity in your heart. Your doctor can ask you to breathe into a tube during the test to determine your breathing ability during the exercise.
While exercising on a treadmill, you start slowly, and the test continues to be complicated. You can always use the railing on the treadmill for balance and don’t hang tightly to avoid ruining the results. You continue with the test until the heart rate has reached the target, and the signs and symptoms like fatigue, dizziness, severe shortness of breath, and abnormal heart rhythm don’t allow you to continue.
Your doctor will discuss with you the safe limits of exercise. You will be advised to stop the test if you feel too uncomfortable, and your doctor will check your heart activity and stop the test if there are health concerns. If you have chest pain after the test, contact Louisiana Heart and Vascular to determine if you need stress testing.