Medically reviewed by Dr. Amit Pande McLeod Cardiology Associates Little River-Loris
If you have ever run on a treadmill at your fitness center, you’ll have a good idea of your role in a cardiac stress test.
A STRESS TEST – DESCRIBED
A person is put on a treadmill (or a stationary bike). Sticky patches with electrodes are attached to your chest to monitor your heart’s electrical activity. A cuff is wrapped around one arm to monitor blood pressure.
You’ll be asked to start walking. As the test proceeds, the treadmill speed can be increased and the incline elevated, like walking up a steeper hill. The medical professional administering the test will want you to keep exercising until you reach a target heart rate — or feel chest pain, become dizzy, become too out of breath to continue or develop abnormally high or low blood pressure.
It usually lasts 10-15 minutes. However, if the exercise becomes too much, you can ask at any time to stop.
“The Cardiac Stress Test enables us to look for abnormal changes in your heart rate or blood pressure,” says McLeod Cardiologist Amit Pande, MD. “There’s no more risk than if you walked fast or jogged up a hill. The results may lead us to recommend further tests.”
WHO NEEDS IT
You may need a heart stress test, if you have:
NO TREADMILL FOR SOME
Patients who have an existing medical reason preventing them from taking the treadmill test can be given medication that makes the heart work hard.
NUCLEAR STRESS TEST FOR MORE DETAIL
In addition to the normal heart stress test, the cardiologist may also conduct a radioactive stress test. It’s also called a radionuclide test, thallium stress test, or myocardial perfusion scan. Specialists use this test to look inside the heart blood flow and determine whether the heart muscle is receiving enough blood.
Pictures will be taken when your heart is at rest; then, again when it’s working hard. A radioactive dye will be injected to make the heart, heart chambers and blood vessels show up better on the scans, this dye does not affect kidney function. You should experience no side effects, because the level of radioactivity is low.
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE.
Don’t try to tough it out if you are experiencing symptoms. Schedule an appointment with a cardiologist to determine what the most useful and appropriate next step is for you.
Find a Cardiologist near you.
Sources include: McLeod Health, United States Preventive Services Task Force, National Institutes of Health, MyHeart.net, British Heart Foundation, American Heart Association