A cardiac stress test is a cardiovascular diagnostic assessment to measure the strength of your heart. During the test, your doctor can see how well your heart performs with exercise, and how much exercise it can tolerate before heart problems or symptoms develop.
If you have been referred by a specialist for a stress test in Arizona, visit Dignity Health to receive excellence in care. For expert cardiology services and treatment, Find a Doctor near you today.
Why a Cardiac Stress Test is Performed
A cardiac stress test, often referred to as a treadmill test, may be recommended by your doctor as a way to assess symptoms of a heart problem, such as shortness of breath and chest pain. These are two very common signs of coronary artery disease (CAD), a condition in which plaque builds up inside the arteries, causing them to become narrow and stiff.
Your doctor also may order a stress test for these conditions:
- Heart failure
- Heart valve disease
- Cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle
- Arrhythmias, abnormal or irregular heartbeats
- Heart birth defects
- Pericarditis, an inflammation around the heart
In addition to diagnosing symptoms, a treadmill test may also be used to monitor your heart after a heart attack, or following heart bypass surgery, angioplasty, heart transplant, or other procedures The results give your doctor a good idea of how much exercise you can handle safely.
What to Expect With a Stress Test at Dignity Health
There are three types of stress tests:
- Imaging stress test. Using echocardiography or PET scanning, your doctor takes pictures of your heart while you exercise and during rest.
- Standard stress test. You walk on a treadmill or pedal a stationary bike.
- Dobutamine stress test. You are given a special drug that stimulates the effects of exercise. This test is done if you are unable to exercise.
When you visit Dignity Health, a doctor, nurse, or technician will perform one of the stress tests listed above. During the test, you will have electrodes attached to your chest, arms, and legs, along with a blood pressure cuff on your arm.
Throughout the test, your provider will monitor you for signs of chest pain. You can stop the test if you feel the exercise is too much for you to continue with the test. The exercise portion of the stress test usually lasts about 15 minutes, with the entire procedure lasting about an hour. If you need imaging tests, this will take additional time.
Your Stress Test Results
Your cardiologist will review the results of your test with you. Depending on your results, your doctor may suggest other imaging tests, cardiac catheterization, angioplasty, or heart bypass surgery if you have coronary artery disease (CAD). Together with your doctor, you can plan your treatment options.
The experts at Dignity Health offer stress tests in Arizona, as part of our diagnostic procedures