What Is A Stress Test? Why Do You Need One?

If your doctor suspects a heart issue, they may want you to do a stress test. You may also need one for occupational reasons. Stress tests make some heart problems more easily detectable. They don't take long, and you do them under the doctor's supervision. So the risk of something going wrong is minimal. If your doctor prescribes a stress test, here are some things to know. 

Why Do a Stress Test?

Usually, doctors want to conduct a stress test because of something found during a physical or because of a patient complaint. Stress tests can inform the doctor about your heart's condition and the severity of a disease or defect. Some conditions doctors use stress tests for include:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • Arrhythmia
  • Angina
  • Heart valve issues

Also, you may need a heart stress test before certain types of surgery or to play on a sports team.

How Does a Stress Test Work?

You usually have a stress test in the doctor's office. The objective of a stress test is to make your heart work harder. Most of the time, the test involves exercise. If you can't exercise, the doctor may use another way to stress your heart. Below is a list of some stress test types.

Exercise Stress Test

This is the standard stress test. You wear monitoring equipment, like EKG leads, and exercise on a bike or treadmill. The doctor then reads the EKG to determine if you have a problem.

Stress Test With Imaging

If the traditional stress test is inconclusive, the doctor may reorder the test with imaging. You would still exercise, but the doctor will use an echocardiogram or other methods to get a better image of your heart.

IV Medicine and EKG Stress Test

This method is for people who cannot exercise. Instead, the doctor uses medication to speed up your heart, along with an EKG.

How Do You Prepare for a Stress Test?

Your doctor should give you instructions before your tests. They may ask you to refrain from caffeine and tobacco at least a day before. You may also need to stop taking certain medications and fast for a short time. Make sure you wear comfortable walking shoes and clothing when you arrive for your test.

After your test, you will receive an evaluation. If your heart is functioning normally, you will not need any testing. If the tests show you have a heart problem, the doctor may order further tests or a different type of stress test. Contact a local cardiology office to learn more about stress testing