A stress test puts your heart into a hard-working state to see how it responds. Simulated exercise conditions reveal how well your heart works as it beats faster and harder. This helps to evaluate the overall health of your heart and pinpoint when something isn’t right. The stress test is typically a first-line diagnostic tool to determine if more invasive tests are needed.
As a one-stop destination for all aspects of your heart health, ARK Cardiovascular & Arrhythmia Center specializes in stress testing as part of our services. Understanding the stress test process and preparing for it assures the best and most accurate results. Here’s what you need to know to be ready for your evaluation.
Your heart reveals clues about its overall health when it’s working harder. That’s the fundamental reasoning behind the exercise stress test. Monitoring your blood pressure, breathing, and heart rhythm as you exert yourself creates conditions that show how well your heart functions.
You’ll be riding a stationary bicycle or walking and jogging on a treadmill to elevate your heart and respiration rates under close medical observation. Suppose you have health issues that prevent you from safely using these methods to increase your heart rate. In that case, your doctor can simulate exercise conditions by giving you medications to create a similar effect.
You’re connected to an electrocardiogram (EKG) to measure heart rate and rhythm and to a cuff that tracks blood pressure levels. You’ll also use an apparatus to assess how much air you breathe through the test. The test starts slowly, increasing intensity until you reach the targeted heart rate.
Along with blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen levels, a stress test shows your heart’s electrical activity. These statistics are useful for comparison to averages for people of your age and gender. The test helps to reveal problems such as:
Stress tests may be required for job clearance for people with high-risk occupations, such as airline pilots. A stress test could also clear your way to start an exercise program or sports participation safely.
Preparation for a stress test is simple. You’ll be asked to refrain from eating and drinking before your test, typically for a period of about two to four hours. Wear light, comfortable clothing suitable for exercise.
Avoid caffeine for at least 24 hours before your test. Inform your doctor well ahead of your test of the medications and supplements you take. Keep taking them as you normally do unless you’re directed to pause. Some medications, like asthma inhalers and beta blockers, can affect your stress test results. Don’t use tobacco products in any form ahead of your test since it constricts blood vessels.
While you may be nervous ahead of a stress test, there’s no need to be. The procedure is safe and closely monitored. Let your caregivers know if you’re feeling anxious since it can affect your test results.
Contact the nearest location of ARK Cardiovascular & Arrhythmia Center to book an appointment or to answer questions about preparing for a scheduled stress test. You can reach the office of your choice by phone or online for appointment requests. Your heart health is crucial, and the stress test is an easy way to learn more. Book a consultation today.