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Stress Test

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STRESS TEST DEFINITION

A stress test, also known as an exercise stress test, is something that's done in order to see how well your heart works whenever you're undergoing physical activity. Because exercise causes your heart to pump harder than any other activity, the exercise test is a perfect way to tell if you have any heart problems.

STRESS TEST PURPOSE

A stress text may be done if your doctor suspects you have arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythm) or coronary artery disease. A stress test may also be utilized to gather information in regards to the best treatment or course of action possible if you've already been diagnosed with a heart-related problem.

STRESS TEST RISKS

The stress test is a mostly safe procedure, so the possibility of complications is low and rare. However, there are still some risks for issues such as myocardial infarction, arrhythmias, and low blood pressure.

STRESS TEST PREPARATION REQUIRED

About two hours or more before taking the stress test, you may be asked to not smoke, drink, or eat. You're allowed to take your medicine as usual save for certain exceptions that your doctor will take note of. You may also need your inhaler if you're asthmatic. Wear loose and comfortable clothes for the test itself.

STRESS TEST PROCEDURE

STRESS TEST
Image: STRESS TEST
You'll first be attached via wires to an ECG or EKG machine, which is designed to record the signals that trigger your heartbeats. You'll then walk on a treadmill or pedal on a stationary bike. As the test gets longer, the speed will increase. The whole exercise will take 15 minutes or less to complete.

STRESS TEST COMPLICATIONS

As mentioned above, potential complications when undergoing a stress test include heart attack (since the test does make your heart beat its hardest during exercise), abnormal heart rhythms (this will go away after you've exercised), and low blood pressure.

STRESS TEST SIDE EFFECTS

Undergoing a stress test doesn't produce any immediate adverse side effects except for exhaustion, temporary arrhythmias, or dizziness due to the possibility of low blood pressure (your blood pressure could drop during or after exercise).

STRESS TEST RESULTS

If the stress test shows your heart to be normal, no further tests will be conducted. If you show symptoms for heart disease or if your symptoms from an already diagnosed cardiac ailment have become worse, your doctor may advise you to take a more accurate nuclear stress test (or any stress test that uses an echocardiogram) at a later time.
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