What’s a cardiac stress test? (Hint: it tests how healthy your heart is)


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A cardiac stress test usually involves the patient exercising on a treadmill in order to gauge their heart function. — TNS

Your heart provides blood to all parts of your body. In order to determine if it’s pumping properly, your healthcare provider may order a cardiac stress test.

This test makes the heart pump harder and faster, and can reveal potential problems with blood flow.

Stressing the heart might not sound like a safe thing for someone with a cardiovascular or heart condition, but a cardiac stress test is an important tool for doctors.

“We get information about the pumping function of the heart and specifically about the vessels that supply blood to the heart, whether or not there are significant blockages,” says Dr Paul McKie, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist in the United States.

There are two types of cardiac stress tests.

“The most common and the preferred approach is to exercise. So a patient may walk on a treadmill (or) they may exercise on a bike,” he says.

That takes less than 10 minutes, and heart rhythm, blood pressure and breathing are monitored.

If a person has a blockage, there is often enough blood flow around the blockage at rest.

“It’s only with exercise – when there’s more demands on the heart – can they not get enough blood flow around the blockage,” says Dr McKie.

If you’re unable to exercise, certain types of medications can be used to simulate the effects of exercise on the heart.

A cardiac stress test may be ordered by your doctor to diagnose coronary artery disease and heart arrhythmias.

It can also help to determine your treatment if you’ve already been diagnosed with a heart condition. – Mayo Clinic News Net-work/Tribune News Service

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