I'm Nervous About My Stress Test: What Can I Expect?

Nov 02, 2023
I'm Nervous About My Stress Test: What Can I Expect?
When your doctor suspects you may have a heart condition, the stress test is a common diagnostic tool. Also known as an exercise test, you raise your heart rate under controlled conditions so we can assess its performance.

Are you nervous about an upcoming stress test? That’s normal if you’ve never had one before. It can sound daunting, undergoing intense exercise to see how your heart works, since you’re probably dealing with a health issue that requires this test. You wonder how well you’re going to fare. 

Dr. Enrique Hernandez and the team at Advanced Vascular Cardiac & Veins administer stress tests in our Miami office, so you’re under medical observation the entire time. There’s no reason to be nervous, and the testing helps us to help you improve the quality of your life. 

What’s the purpose of a stress test? 

While you may not always raise your heart rate to its maximum levels, the way it operates under those conditions can reveal much about its health and, in turn, your general health. 

The test reveals how efficiently your heart works under a load, and it’s useful as a diagnostic tool for Dr. Hernandez to pinpoint a range of heart conditions, should you have one. 

Types of stress tests

The most common type of stress test uses some form of exercise. Most often, it’s a treadmill, because it’s a device that easily allows us to raise and lower the intensity to suit every patient. 

People with mobility issues are sometimes unable to meet the demands of a stress test. In this case, we may administer a chemical that causes effects similar to an exercise stress test. 

What can I expect from my stress test?

In each type of stress test, you’re monitored for your physical responses. The goals of the test are to observe your heart’s electrical patterns, pulse rate, blood oxygen levels, blood pressure levels, breathing efficiency, and how tired you become during the test. 

We measure your at-rest levels for these parameters, including heartbeat pattern, after placing electrodes on your chest. 

The treadmill portion of the test starts slowly, with speed increasing gradually. We raise the incline level of the ramp if necessary to get your heart rate up to the target level. Once you’re close to this rate, we give you a mouthpiece so we can track air movement in and out of your body. 

After the treadmill slows and stops, you lie down and we take heart measurements. Normally, the active portion of the test takes about 15 minutes. If you’re feeling winded, unwell, or unable to continue, we stop the stress test sooner. 

Reasons for stress testing

Sometimes, stress testing is necessary for people in high-risk occupations, such as airline pilots or professional athletes. Mostly though, it’s for people with suspected symptoms of heart disease, such as: 

  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat

You might also have a stress test if you want to make sure it’s safe to start exercising. Underlying conditions and genetic history could be additional reasons for assessing your heart, and it’s also good information to know before surgery or other medical treatment. 

Contact the stress test specialists at Advanced Vascular Cardiac & Veins to schedule your consultation. You can request an appointment online or by phone at either of our Miami locations. There’s no reason to be nervous, so plan your visit today.