All You Need to Know about a Stress Test

A stress test or an exercise stress test is a diagnostic procedure that shows how your heart works during physical activity. The test can reveal problems with blood flow within your heart because exercise makes your heart pump blood harder and faster. Your doctor may recommend Tomball stress testing if you have signs or symptoms of coronary artery disease or abnormal heart rhythm.

How safe is a stress taste?

A stress test is safe and rarely causes complications. However, some people may experience the following:

  • Abnormal heart rhythms. Arrhythmias resulting from an exercise stress test are temporary and usually go away soon after you stop exercising.
  •  Low blood pressure. You will feel dizzy and can faint if your blood pressure drops when exercising. But this problem should go away once you stop exercising.
  • Heart attack. Although rare, an exercise stress test could cause a heart attack.

How to prepare for a stress test

Before a stress test, your doctor will tell you how to prepare for the diagnostic test. For example, you may need to avoid eating, drinking, or smoking for some time before a stress test. Since some medications can interfere with certain stress tests, you will list all your medicines. Your doctor will review them and determine if it is safe for you to continue taking your over-the-counter or prescription medications.

It is also important to inform your doctor if you use an inhaler for asthma or other breathing problems. Ensure your doctor and the healthcare team monitoring your stress know you use an inhaler.

Before a stress test

Your doctor will review your medical history and ask questions about how often and how intense your exercises are to determine the amount of activity appropriate for you during the test. The doctor will also evaluate your heart and lungs for any health problems affecting your test results.

What happens during a stress test?

A technician will place electrodes on your arms, chest, and legs; if you have body hair, your provider may shave them to help the patches stick. The sensors are connected to a computer, which monitors and records your heart’s electrical activity. You will also have a cuff on your arm to check your blood pressure during the test. During the test, you may need to breathe into a tube; this shows how well you can breathe during physical activity.

You will probably exercise on a treadmill or a stationary bike for the test. In the beginning, the exercise is simple, but it gets more difficult as the test continues. The railings on the treadmill can help you balance but don’t hang on tightly since this may affect the results.

You will continue to exercise until your heart rate has reached a target level. The test may need to stop if you start having signs and symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue
  •  Moderate to severe chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Significantly high or low blood pressure
  • Dizziness

After you stop exercising, you will stand still for several seconds and then lie down with the monitors in place. Resuming normal activities after the test is safe unless your doctor recommends otherwise.

For further questions about stress testing, consult your doctor at Northwest Houston Heart Center.

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