The heart is one of the most important parts of the human body. It keeps you alive by circulating blood throughout your body, allowing nutrients and oxygen to be delivered to your cells. In some cases, the heart doesn't work as well as it should. Heart problems can be diagnosed through several means, including a test called a stress test.
If you've been told that you need a stress test, you may be wondering what this means. Here are some basic facts about stress testing that can help you prepare for your upcoming exam and put your mind at ease:
1. A stress test can help doctors determine the cause of certain symptoms
Many symptoms that signify heart disease can also be caused by other conditions. It's important that doctors correctly determine the cause of your symptoms to provide the right treatment. Stress tests can help your doctor figure out if symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, and a feeling of tightness in your chest are caused by heart dysfunction. If a stress test rules out heart disease, your doctor may instead consider diseases like asthma or generalized anxiety disorder to explain the source of your complaints.
2. Stress tests are safe
Some people worry about undergoing a stress test because they're afraid that they will have a heart attack or another similar cardiac incident. However, stress tests are very safe. They're conducted in controlled medical facilities under strict doctor supervision. If at any point during your test, you feel unwell and unable to continue, you can notify the doctor overseeing your test to call a halt to the proceedings. In the unlikely event that a cardiac incident does occur, trained medical personnel are available to perform emergency rescue services immediately. This means that you're very unlikely to suffer serious consequences while undergoing a stress test.
3. Stress tests are usually performed using treadmills, but other options are available
Exercise stress tests are the most common forms of stress testing. During this type of stress test, you will be asked to walk and run on a treadmill that gets faster over time. The purpose of this test is to force your heart to pump hard so its activity can be measured. If you're unable to safely exercise due to injuries or other physical constraints, you can still undergo a stress test. In this case, a chemical stress test may be administered. During this type of stress test, drugs are intravenously administered to cause your heart to work harder. You can lie down for the duration of this test. You may feel some discomfort as your heart begins to race, but like exercise stress tests, chemical stress tests are safe and effective.
Contact a local cardiology office to learn more about stress testing.