FAQs About Stress Testing

 Regular physical activity is essential for overall good health and wellbeing. When something prevents you from getting the exercise needed to stay healthy, it can create other health issues.

One primary reason for a person to stop enjoying physical activity is chest pain or shortness of breath—both symptoms can be heart-related issues. When certain symptoms occur with exercise, your doctor often recommends a stress test. If your doctor orders a stress test, here what you should know.

When Is A Stress Test Necessary?

Doctors recommend stress tests when a patient is showing symptoms of a heart problem. These include testing for heart valve disease, heart disease, and heart failure.

Certain symptoms are a red flag for heart issues.

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Abnormal heart rate or rhythm
  • Abnormal high or low blood pressure

The exercise stress test allows doctors to look for issues with the heart like blood flow. During physical activity, the heart pumps faster and harder, making it easier for doctors to spot issues.

What Happens During a Stress Test?

During a stress test, the doctor hooks the patient up to medical equipment to assist him or her in monitoring the patient. This is a non-invasive test that involves only a few medical devices.

  • Pulse monitor hooked to a finger
  • Blood pressure cuff on the arm
  • Electrodes on the chest

The patient walks a treadmill as it gradually increases speed and may move to an uphill position. The exercise is usually about 15 minutes. However, you can stop if you feel unwell.

Once the test ends, a mouthpiece is used to measure the amount of air a patient breathes out. The patient lies down after the test is complete so the doctor can take blood pressure and other readings.

What Can the Test Show?

The stress test can provide the doctor with the information needed to treat the patient. If the results raise no concern, no further testing is necessary.

However, if the test results show damage or aren't clear, the doctor often recommends further testing like echocardiography. Some examples of results include.

  • Normal blood flow
  • Abnormal blood flow during exercise—blocked artery
  • Low blood flow during exercise and rest—coronary artery disease

Stress tests can also be helpful in planning an exercise program for a patient, or when planning heart surgery.

Anytime you experience symptoms are heart issues when doing daily activities, it's best to alert your doctor right away. For more information, contact services like Alpert Zales & Castro Pediatric Cardiology.