Cardiac Stress Test

A Cardiac Stress Test is used to measure the hearts ability to respond to external stress in a controlled clinical environment. This test will show any abnormal blood flow to the heart’s muscle tissue.
 
This test is used to:
  • Determine if there is adequate blood flow to your heart during increasing levels of activity
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of your heart medications to control angina and ischemia
  • Determine the likelihood of having coronary heart disease and the need for further evaluation
  • Check the effectiveness of procedures done to improve blood flow within the heart vessels in people with coronary heart disease
  • Identify abnormal heart rhythms  
  • Help you develop a safe exercise program
 
There are many different types of stress tests, including:
  • Treadmill stress test: As long as you can walk and have a normal ECG, this is normally the first stress test performed. You walk on a treadmill while being monitored to see how far you walk and if you develop chest pain or changes in your ECG that suggest that your heart is not getting enough blood. Because exercise makes your heart pump harder and faster than it does during most daily activities, an exercise stress test can reveal problems within your heart that might not be noticeable otherwise
  • Dobutamine or Adenosine Stress Test: This test is used in people who are unable to exercise. A drug is given to make the heart respond as if the person were exercising. This way the doctor can still determine how the heart responds to stress, but no exercise is required.
  • Stress echocardiogram: An echocardiogram (often called "echo") is a graphic outline of the heart's movement. A stress echo can accurately visualize the motion of the heart's walls and pumping action when the heart is stressed; it may reveal a lack of blood flow that isn't always apparent on other heart tests.
  • Nuclear stress test: This test helps to determine which parts of the heart are healthy and function normally and which are not. A small amount of radioactive substance is injected into the patient. Then the doctor uses a special camera to identify the rays emitted from the substance within the body; this produces clear pictures of the heart tissue on a monitor. These pictures are done both at rest and after exercise. Using this technique, areas of the heart that have a decreased blood supply can be detected.

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