DIAGNOSTIC STRESS TESTING
Exercise Stress Test
An exercise stress test helps your doctor see how your heart works during
exercise. This test is also called an exercise tolerance test, an exercise
electrocardiogram or a treadmill test.
During the test, you will be connected to an electrocardiogram and a blood
pressure cuff while you exercise. A healthy person's electrocardiogram
has a certain pattern. If the pattern of yours is different, doctors can
tell if there is a problem with your heart.
Your blood pressure, pulse and heart's electrical activity are recorded
before you begin exercising. During the test, you will be asked to walk
on a treadmill or to ride a recumbant bike. Every couple of minutes, your
doctor or the technician will increase the speed and slope of the treadmill
(or the resistance on the bike). Your doctor or a technician will look
for changes in the electrocardiogram patterns and blood pressure levels.
These indicate whether your heart is getting enough oxygen.
Be sure to tell your doctor and the technician how you are feeling during
the test. It is important to report any symptoms such as fatigue, nausea,
difficulty breathing, chest pain, jaw or back discomfort, lightheadedness
or dizziness, or physical inability to continue the test. At the end of
the test, you may be asked to lie down or sit quietly.
Drug Inducted Stress Test
This test is for patients who are not able to walk on a treadmill. Like
a treadmill test, it evaluates your heart's response to stress, but
in this case, medication rather than physical exercise stresses the heart.
Nuclear Stress Test
In addition to measuring your heart's electrical activity during stress,
a nuclear study provides pictures of your heart. This nuclear study has
two parts: a scan of your heart at rest and a scan of your heart under
stress. This information will help us determine if any of the coronary
arteries are blocked.
To take the scan, we will give you a small amount of weak radioactive isotope
through an IV. On a scan, it will show which areas of your heart muscle
are receiving blood.
Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG)
The EKG records the heart's electrical activity and shows abnormal
heart rhythms. It can even show a heart attack in progress.
Tilt Table Test
If you have sudden or frequent fainting spells (syncope), your doctor may
order a Tilt-Table Test. During this test, we will monitor your heart
rate and blood pressure as you lie flat on a table. Then we will tilt
the table upward, so that you are almost in a standing position. The changes
in your heart rate and blood pressure as you change position can show
whether it is a heart rhythm problem that is causing you to faint.