A stress test, sometimes called a treadmill test or exercise test, helps your doctor find out how well your heart handles its workload. As your body works harder during the test, it requires more fuel and your heart has to pump more blood. The test can show if there’s a lack of blood supply through the arteries that go to the heart. Taking a stress test also helps your doctor know the kind and level of physical activity that’s right for you.
Why do people need stress tests?
Doctors use stress tests to find out how hard you need to exercise when you’re joining a cardiac rehabilitation or any kind of work that may require excessive workout. Other than that by stress tests doctors can find out about any irregular heartbeat you may have or to help detect narrowed arteries and to check if any kind of medicine you may be taking is making effect.
There are four different types of stress tests, including: Treadmill stress test, Dobutamine or Adenosine Stress Test, Stress Echocardiogram and Nuclear Stress Test. Each one of this type of test will analyze your heart in different perspectives and will help your doctor detect any kind of complication you may have.
How do I prepare for a stress test?
Always tell your doctor if you are taking any medicine (including over-the-counter, herbs and vitamins), some drugs and other types of medicine can alter the result of the test so your doctor may ask you to not take them before your test. But don’t stop taking them if the doctor doesn’t think it’s necessary.
Depending on the type of stress test you’re doing, your doctor may ask you not to eat, drink and/or smoke for 2 to 4 hours prior the test. Don’t forget to put comfortable clothes and walking shoes.
What happens during the stress test?
The doctor will hook you up to the equipment so he can monitor your heart beat. You will start the test walking slowly on a treadmill. During the test the speed on the treadmill will vary to check how your heart adapts to the change of workout stress, and it will even tilt the treadmill to make you feel like going up a small hill. If you feel uncomfortable or for any other reason you may stop the test whenever you want. After you’re done, you will sit or lie down and have your blood pressure checked.
Is there a risk?
The risks in this test is minimum, it will feel like if you went out for a walk and crossed a small hill in the middle. You will have your doctor near you the whole test in case anything unusual happens they will be there to assist you.
For more information on Stress Tests and how they work please access the American Heart Association website.