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Stress Test

Stress tests are performed to determine the amount of stress that your heart can manage before developing either an abnormal rhythm or evidence of ischemia. Exercise stress test is the most commonly performed stress test. This test is used to gather information about how well your heart works during physical activity. Exercise makes the heart pump harder and faster than it normally does and an exercise stress test can reveal problems within the heart that might not be noticeable otherwise. An exercise stress test consists of walking on a treadmill while the rhythm of your heart, blood pressure and breathing are monitored. Different types of stress tests are:

  • Treadmill stress test: During this test you are made to walk on a treadmill and at the same time you are monitored to see if you develop chest pain or changes in your ECG.
  • Stress echocardiogram: It accurately visualizes the motion of the heart's walls and pumping action when the heart is stressed. It is able to detect lack of blood flow that isn't always apparent on other heart tests.
  • Dobutamine or Adenosine Stress Test: During this test people who are unable to exercise are given a drug to make the heart respond as if the person were exercising. This way the doctor can understand how the heart responds to stress without any exercise.
  • Nuclear stress test: In this a radioactive substance is injected into a person to determine which parts of the heart are healthy and function normally and which are not.

Stress test is used

  • To check if there is enough blood flow to the heart during increased physical activity.
  • To check the effectiveness of the heart medications in controlling conditions like angina and ischemia.
  • To detect the likelihood of having coronary heart disease.
  • To understand how effective the procedures done have been to improve blood flow within the heart vessels in people with coronary heart disease
  • To check abnormal heart rhythms.