If cardiac stress testing is not something you’ve ever had, this diagnostic screening may sound intimidating. Standing alone, the word stress is used to describe something “bad,” so putting the word cardiac alongside it may double its negative connotation. Let us assure you that cardiac stress testing need not be a complicated matter. If your doctor recommends that you have a cardiac stress test, know that there is nothing to fear. Here, we discuss what a cardiac stress test is and why it is beneficial.
Cardiac Stress Testing
If you have ever run on a treadmill, you have done a cardiac stress test. The screening that measures the pulmonary strength and exercise capacity begins as a nice, steady walking pace on the treadmill with minimal incline if any. The speed and incline of the treadmill increase gradually as the test progresses. The test is complete when a target heart-rate range has been reached. Other reasons that the test may end include patient fatigue, chest pain, or extreme breathlessness. A cardiac stress test is directly supervised, and blood pressure and heart rate are constantly monitored throughout the testing process.
Why Cardiac Stress Testing is Beneficial
Measurements obtained during the cardiac stress test allow your doctor to observe areas of concern related to any irregular cardiac patterns that occurred in the screening. The analysis of cardiac stress test results may coincide with other diagnostics, such as echocardiography, or cardiac ultrasound. This test, with or without additional screenings, provides valuable data that indicates how well blood is circulating through the heart. The information gained in testing facilitates treatment planning that includes medication, further testing, and lifestyle modifications.
Should You Consider having a Cardiac Stress Test?
Anytime uncomfortable or questionable cardiac symptoms occur, it is beneficial to see your doctor. This initial consultation about your symptoms may lead to the suggestion for cardiac stress testing. You may also ask your doctor if this screening may be beneficial in helping you understand why cardiac symptoms such as breathlessness are occurring when you exercise. Another common reason for elective cardiac stress testing is a desire to substantially increase the intensity of an exercise program.
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