The cardiac stress test is a relatively simple and painless diagnostic method of performing controlled physical exercise under continuous electrocardiographic monitoring on screen both during and after exercise. Helps your doctor assess the subsequent functional disorders of coronary artery stenosis. Due to the increased need for oxygen during exercise, ischemic changes in the electrocardiogram may occur and symptoms that may not be observed in some patients with coronary heart disease at rest.
When does a cardiac stress test need to be done?
The cardiac stress test is used:
a) for the detection of coronary heart disease in:
- people with suspected discomfort (procardiacpain, palpitations, dizziness, syncope)
- asymptomatic people over the age of 40, belonging to special professions (pilots, drivers of public transport, etc.)
- asymptomatic people with two or more predisposingrisk factors (ex. smokers with diabetes)
- patients with recurrent arrhythmias
b) to assess the prognosis and therapeutic effect in patients:
- with chronic coronary heart disease undergoing conservative treatment
- who suffered an acute myocardial infarction
- with a history of coronary artery bypass graft orpercutaneouscoronary angioplasty
How to prepare for the cardiac stress test?
- You should tell your doctor about all the medicines you are taking. You may be asked not to take any of these before the test (such as beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers, whose pharmacological action may affect the test result.) But do not stop taking the medicine before the test without have your doctor tell you to.
- You should not consume food, drink or smoke for at least 2-4 hours before the test.
- You should not consume caffeine for 3 hours before the test. This includes taking coffee, tea, chocolate and caffeine-containing analgesics.
- You can drink water.
- You should wear comfortableclothesand shoes with an elastic sole. Sports shoes are a good choice.
- You will be asked to walk on a treadmill slowly and steadily
Approximately how long does the test last?
The total time of the exercise ranges from 6 to 12 minutes and depends on various factors such as age, gender and physical condition.
When is the process completed?
The process is completed when the target heart rate is normal for your age. The maximum predicted heart rate is calculated empirically by subtracting the age of the examinee in years from the number 220. For example for a 50 year old this value of the target heart rate is 220-50 = 170.
Process is interrupted when:
- you experience chest pain, or a change in your blood pressure that is worrying
- Electrocardiographic lesionsshowthat your heart hasn’t got enough amount of blood so that can work normally
- you feel very tiredor have other symptoms such as pain in the lower extremities that prevent you from continuing.