What To Expect If Your Doctor Orders A Stress Test

Your doctor may order a stress test if they are concerned about the condition of your heart or if you have recently had chest pain that might indicate a heart condition. A stress test does not mean you have a bad heart; it is a test used to diagnose where the problem lies if you are having symptoms like those of a heart attack or other condition. 

Standard Stress Testing

When you arrive for your stress test, a technician or nurse will get you ready for the test. They will place 12 sensors on your body for an electrocardiogram or EKG so they can monitor your heart during the test. They will take a reading while you are at rest then they will have you ride the stationary bike or jog on a treadmill. The goal is to get your heart rate to a specified rate while monitoring it.  A second EKG will be recorded right after the physical activity. 

The doctor will look at the EKGs and compare them, looking for a variety of irregularities that might indicate a problem. In some cases, the EKG doesn't give the doctor the information, and they may order an additional test called a Nuclear Stress test.

Nuclear Stress Testing

The nuclear stress test is not all that different from the standard stress test except that before you start, the technician will inject you with a radioactive dye. About 20 to 30 minutes after they inject the dye, the tech will take a set of images of your heart, then it is back to the bike or treadmill. The EKG leads will be attached again, and the test will begin.

Once the heart rate is reached for the specified time, you will go back to have another set of images taken of your heart. The radioactive dye can show the doctor how the blood is moving in your heart muscle, helping them to determine if there is a blockage anywhere that is causing a problem. 

What Will The Test Show?

Stress testing may be ordered for a lot of different reasons, but most commonly, the doctor is looking for abnormalities in the heart tissue or the electrical side of the heart. Often, these are early warning signs of a heart condition and making changes to diet, lifestyle, and overall health can help you avoid a problem down the road. 

When the test is complete, and the doctor has the results, they will talk to about what they did or didn't find and any concerns they have. 

For more information, reach out to professionals like Alpert Zales & Castro Pediatric Cardiology.