What to Expect From a Stress Test

Heart disease, when it comes to both danger and mortality, is serious business. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 610,000 people die each year from heart disease – a number that equates to 1 in 4 deaths overall. 

It’s the top killer for both women and men. Although heart failure, heart attacks, and strokes can occur from other causes, those with heart disease are more likely to experience these cardiac events.

One of the best ways to detect and diagnose heart disease is through a stress test. By putting your body into stress through exercise, a doctor can determine if your heart is functioning properly. If you have a family history of heart disease or could be otherwise at risk for heart issues, a stress test is a key component of managing your vascular health.

If you think you could benefit from a stress test, come and see us at More MD. Servicing Lake Havasu City, Surprise, and Prescott, Arizona, our doctors and team will work with you to evaluate your heart and overall health. In addition to primary care services, we also specialize in aesthetics and weight management. 

Heart disease can be frightening, but with early detection and diagnosis, you can work with our doctors to create a custom treatment plan that can yield great, successful returns.

Stress test basics

An exercise stress test shows how well your heart works during physical activity. Since exercise increases your heart rate, an exercise stress test can reveal problems with circulation in your heart. 

Although most people could probably benefit from a stress test, they’re recommended for people who have had previous heart problems or have a family history of heart disease. 

Stress tests are most commonly used to detect the following:

If you’ve already been diagnosed with a heart problem and are on medication, a stress test can also be used to measure the effectiveness of the prescribed treatment plan.

What to expect

Your stress test will happen on either a treadmill or stationary bike. Once you come into our office, several electrode patches will be attached to your chest, legs, and arms. These will measure your heart’s electrical activity throughout the test. 

You may also wear a blood pressure cuff or breathing mask. The cuff will gauge your blood pressure during the test while the mask will measure the volume of gas you exhale.

Once the test begins, you will run, walk, or pedal as you would during a normal trip to the gym. Over the course of the test, the intensity of the exercise will gradually be increased to get your heart rate up to its maximum level. 

The test will come to an end when you reach that top heart rate or develop symptoms that don’t allow you to continue. After the test, you will rest as your heart rate returns to normal. Then, we’ll remove the equipment from your body.

Results

If the results of your stress test are normal, no further action will be necessary. If the results are abnormal, you will likely have to undergo more tests to determine the source of the irregularities. Stress tests are the first layer of determining a diagnosis.

How to prepare

The evening and morning before your stress will be similar to those before your yearly physical. You’ll likely need to fast and avoid certain medications to ensure that measurements are accurate and not impacted by outside sources.

When getting dressed for the appointment, make sure to wear loose, comfortable clothing. Wear sneakers or shoes that will be comfortable for exercise. While you’ll probably already be fasting, It’s important to avoid coffee and any caffeine beforehand, as they may accelerate your heart rate.

If you’re concerned about your risk for heart disease or other heart conditions, a stress test is the first step. At More MD, we’re ready to help you take control of your cardiac health. Call or book an appointment online at our Prescott, Surprise, or Lake Havasu, Arizona offices today.

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