A stress test is an essential, diagnostic tool for many heart diseases because it reveals how well your heart functions when it’s forced to work harder than usual. At Advanced Vascular Cardiac & Veins in Miami, Florida, Enrique Hernandez, MD, offers many diagnostic tests in the office, including stress testing. You’re constantly supervised during the test, so you don’t need to worry about putting extra stress on your heart. To find out more about stress tests, call the office or request an appointment today.
A stress test reveals how well your heart works when it’s forced to work harder, beat faster, and pump more blood. You may need a stress test to diagnose the cause of heart symptoms, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, or a rapid heartbeat.
Heart conditions frequently diagnosed with a stress test include:
Your provider may also perform a stress test to evaluate the effectiveness of ongoing heart disease treatment or to decide if you can exercise again after a heart attack.
During an exercise stress test, your provider evaluates your heart activity while you engage in exercise, usually walking on a treadmill. Your heart’s electrical activity is recorded with an electrocardiogram (EKG) throughout the stress test. Your provider also regularly checks your blood pressure.
You start walking at a slow pace, and then your provider increases the treadmill’s speed (and possibly incline) at regular intervals. The test continues until your heart reaches a target rate, problems show up in your EKG or blood pressure, or you develop symptoms like chest pain or shortness of breath.
Your provider may perform other stress tests, such as:
This is an exercise stress test with an echocardiogram performed before and after you exercise. Echocardiograms use ultrasound technology to create images of your heart, showing the structures, blood flow, valve movement, and muscle contractions. Comparing the before-and-after images reveals any changes in heart function when it works harder.
If you need a stress test but can’t tolerate the exercise, your provider can increase your heart rate with medication. Pharmacologic stress testing is typically done together with an echocardiogram or nuclear tracers.
During a nuclear stress test, your provider inserts an intravenous needle and infuses a small amount of a radioactive substance (radiotracer). The radiotracer attaches to blood cells. As blood goes through your heart, a specialized camera picks up the tracers and produces images showing how well blood flows through your heart.
If you have questions about stress testing, call Advanced Vascular Cardiac & Veins or request an appointment online today.