Cardiac Stress Test 101: What To Know Before You Have To Take One

A cardiac stress test is a diagnostic test that most people are likely to have to complete at some stage in life. Many people have heard of this test but few really understand what it is or what it's used to determine. It's important to understand the fundamentals of a cardiac stress test before your doctor orders one so that you can better understand why they might want to complete a test like this and what it could tell them. Here's a look at some of the things that you should understand about cardiac stress tests.

What Can A Cardiac Stress Test Show Your Doctor?

You might wonder why a cardiac stress test even matters. Knowing what types of things this test can tell your doctor will help you to understand its importance. Cardiac stress tests help your doctor to evaluate your heart's response to activity. Monitoring your heart rate can help your doctor diagnose things like heart arrhythmia, coronary artery disease, and even overall heart health when you're preparing for surgery. If your doctor has any concerns at all about your heart function, a stress test is often the go-to for initial evaluation.

What Can You Expect From The Cardiac Stress Test?

In most cases, you'll undergo a routine exercise stress test. During this test, you'll be attached to an electrocardiogram machine with sticky electrodes. This machine will measure your heart's electrical activity. Then, you'll be placed on either a treadmill or a stationary bicycle. Your activity will start slow, and your doctor will gradually increase your rate and intensity as they monitor your heart's response.

If you're physically unable to do this type of stress test, your doctor may inject you with a medication that forces your heart to simulate an exercise response. That way, your doctor can assess your heart without you having to attempt any physical activity.

What Else Might Occur During Your Stress Test?

Your doctor may decide that they want more information than what a cardiac stress test can show on its own. In those cases, they might request an echocardiogram for the imaging benefit. You will have an image taken of your heart both before and after the stress test, in this case, that way your doctor can identify any potential visual anomalies.

These are some of the basic things that you need to understand about cardiac stress tests before your doctor advises you to take one. These tests are nothing to be concerned about and are typically an outpatient evaluation. Talk with your doctor today to see if they believe that you could benefit from a stress test.

For more information about echocardiology, contact your cardiologist.

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