A stress test involves the use of electrodes and exercises to detect blocked or narrowing arteries. Physical exertion forces the heart to work harder, allowing specialists to identify areas with insufficient blood supply.
Insufficient blood supply is caused by plaque build-up in the arteries. Arterial plaque can be composed of calcium, cholesterol, waste products, and blood clotting agents. Lifestyle factors that may increase your risk for developing plaque inside your arteries include smoking cigarettes, living a sedentary lifestyle, and being overweight or obese.
Patients suffering from diabetes or hypertension may also be at a higher risk of developing plaque.
Read on to find out how Dr. Gail Zimmerman uses stress tests to detect heart issues in her patients.
Symptoms that may prompt testing
You may benefit from a stress test if you experience the following symptoms:
- Chest pain and difficulty breathing
- Irregular heartbeat
Those who suffer from cardiovascular disease or have a family history of cardiovascular disease may also benefit from undergoing a stress test.
What happens during a stress test
There are three types of stress testing: nuclear stress testing, exercise stress testing, and stress echocardiograms. All of these tests involve exercise.
However, with nuclear stress testing, patients are injected with a radioactive dye before stepping on the treadmill, which provides a better image of how blood flows through the heart.
With a stress echocardiogram, patients wear a small device on their chest that produces sound waves, creating images of their heart during exercise.
When you undergo a stress test, our specialist will ask you to take your shirt off so they can apply several patches to your chest. These patches are electrodes that record the electrical signals your heart gives off when pumping blood. When hooked to a machine, electrodes can track your heart rhythm.
Once our specialist places the electrodes on your skin, they will ask you to step on a treadmill. The treadmill will start at a slow pace, but the intensity will gradually increase every 2-3 minutes.
On average, a stress test lasts about 8 minutes. During the test, a specialist will look at a screen that monitors your vitals and may take your blood pressure several times.
For best results, you’re encouraged to stay on the treadmill as long as you can. However, you can stop the test any time if you feel out of breath or uncomfortable.
Learn more about stress tests
Stress tests provide an effective and non-invasive way to determine if someone is at risk of cardiovascular disease or arrhythmia.
Whether you’re experiencing worrisome symptoms or you want to know if your heart is healthy, contact us to schedule an appointment for a stress test.