A cardiac stress test records your heartbeat rate and rhythm during exercise. Some heart problems are easier to diagnose when your heart is working hard and beating fast.
Cardiac stress tests are useful in the diagnosis of coronary artery disease. By placing the heart under physical stress, the test can bring out abnormalities caused by partial blockages in the coronary arteries that are often unapparent when you are at rest.
Other reasons why you may need a cardiac stress test include:
- You have experienced symptoms of reduced blood flow to the heart, including shortness of breath or chest pains.
- You need to know whether your heart is strong enough to start exercising after a heart attack or a diagnosis of coronary heart disease.
- You need to see how well treatments such as, coronary artery bypass grafting or angioplasty, have worked at relieving your symptoms.
- You have arrhythmia symptoms during exercise, including a fluttering sensation in the chest, irregular heartbeat or feeling faint.
- You have shortness of breath without chest pain during exercise.
In preparation of the test, you are asked not to smoke, exercise, or eat or drink anything with caffeine 8 hours before testing. You will be asked to fast 4 hours prior to the stress test. You should continue to take all medications, unless your doctor instructs you otherwise. Wear loose, comfortable clothing, a short-sleeved shirt, and comfortable walking shoes. If you use inhalers be sure to bring them with you to the test.
During stress testing, electrodes are attached to your chest with adhesive to record blood pressure, heart rate, and ECG. Measurements will first be taken while you are at rest, then you will be asked to walk or run on a treadmill, or pedal on a stationary bike. You will be encouraged to exercise for as long as possible so that your heart can be monitored under maximum stress, but you may ask to stop the test at any time.
For more information about the cardiac stress test or to schedule an appointment please call 314.747.9355 or toll-free 877.747.9355 or email us.