How Should One Prepare For a Stress Test?

Stress test, which is also known as exercise stress test, is a procedure to know the functions of the heart at the time of performing heavy physical activity. The reason behind prescribing stress test is that while performing any physical activity heart starts to pump faster as compared to its normal rate. Stress test helps in diagnosing all types of cardiac related problem, which are as such not identified.

The stress test is performed while walking on the treadmill or bicycle and during this time heart rate, pulse rate and blood pressure is carefully monitored. All these monitored values help in identifying whether the heart is working properly or not. Doctors prescribe stress test only when they suspect irregular heart rhythm problem or coronary artery problem in the patient. In addition, if patient is diagnosed with any sort of heart problem then also doctors recommend patient to undertake this stress test.

How Should One Prepare For a Stress Test?

Before opting for stress test doctors recommend not to eat, smoke or drink anything for minimum two hours before undertaking the stress test. Patient should ask their doctor if they should deprive intake of caffeine or any specific medicine a day before the stress test. This is because such ingredients can alter or mislead the stress test results.

Patient who makes use of any type of inhalers for controlling asthma or any form of breathing issue should inform the same to their doctor. Health care expert or the individual performing the stress test should be aware of the inhalers patient take to ensure safety. Also, patient should wear loose and comfortable outfits and shoes while going for stress test.

When patient comes for the stress test, doctors first inquire if they are under any medication and the amount of exercise they perform on daily or weekly basis. Patients should answer the questions correctly because based on this doctor determine the amount of exercise patient can perform at the time of stress test.

What Happens During the Stress Test

At the time of stress test a technical expert or assistant attaches electrodes on the chest, arms and legs with the help of sticky patches, which is then connected to electrocardiogram also known as ECG machine through wires. This helps in calculating patient’s heart electrical signals. Patch stick on the cuff helps in recording the blood pressure and breading rate is determined when doctor ask the patient to blow air in the tube while performing the stress test. This helps in identifying how well the heart works when performing any form of light or heavy exercise.

Stress test starts with slow walking on the treadmill or slow peddling of bicycle, further the stress test is continued and the incline or treadmill and intensity of bicycle is increase. The stress test is continued till either the heart rate of the patient reaches the optimum level or patient find it difficult to continue the stress test. Some of the symptoms indicating that patient should stop the stress test are:

  • Excess chest pain
  • Breathlessness
  • High/low blood pressure
  • Strange variations in electrocardiogram results
  • Uncomfortable with exercise.

What Happens After the Stress Test

Once the stress test is complete doctors ask the patient to stand for some time and then lie down for few minutes. During this time also heartbeats and breading rates are monitored. This helps to understand how the heart function after body stops to perform heavy physical activity.

Data gathered from the stress test are then analyzed to know whether the heart is functioning properly or not. If the result of this stress test show that heart of the patient is normal then no other stress test is required for identifying the condition of heart. The stress test is very effective and provides accurate results.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:September 14, 2017

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