A heart stress test is an important to for a cardiologist in a number of cases to ascertain how much oxygen is actually getting to the cardiac muscle. It is most often used when a person complains of chest pain or shortness of breath during exercise. There may be times when, after such things as angioplasty, cardio surgery or a cardio attack the doctor may want to prescribe an exercise regimen, and he or she will need to know just exactly at what level to start the patient. A stress exam is often the way that such a regimen can be compiled. It is a non-evasive way that the cardiac muscle can be evaluated for future or even present day problems.
In Europe, they love the stationary bike as the means of getting the heartmuscle rate up and monitoring its functionality. In the United States, the treadmill is the favored machine of putting stress on the cardiac muscle for monitoring purposes but in either case, in good old London, England or London, Ohio the patient will be asked to start out slowly and work up a good sweat as the heart begins to labor under the exertion. Blood pressure will be monitored and an electrocardiogram will be taken during the exercise period. The electrocardiogram or ECG will measure electrical patterns and activities of the heart. The doctor or the doctor’s assistant will monitor all the information during the heart stress test. In the Bible, the heart is viewed as the seat of all thoughts, intents and purposes. Having a heart pure before God, made right through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, is what God desires: “Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then we have confidence toward God.” (I John 3:20)
During a heart stress test that is being conducted on the treadmill or stationary bike or other machine meant to put the cardiac muscle through its paces, the patient is in charge of the duration of the exam. In some cases, the patient may ask that the exam be discontinued, especially in the case of chest pain or shortness of breath. Sometimes none of those things happen but the ECG will show signs that something is happening to the cardiac muscle and the doctor or assistant may abruptly end the exam. Patients should not fear taking such an exam because the professionals who monitor the proceedings are watching carefully both the patient and the instruments. In some cases, the doctor may already know of certain cardio problems and only wants to see how intensive an exercise program ought to be allowed for the patient, so the exam is only run for a certain amount of time.
Now of course there are always patients who cannot do the physical exertion of a treadmill or stationary bike heart stress test because there may be too much weight the patient is carrying, or age or in many cases, a severe form of arthritis that really does not permit even mild physical exercise. In this case, a chemical heart stress test is administered. Actually, a more medically correct name would be a pharmacologic stress exam which induces a cardiac muscle speed up that is almost akin to the same action that would occur on the treadmill. In either case of the treadmill or the pharmacologic heart stress test, the exercise will show the cardiologist the rhythm of the heart as well as blocked arteries and the percentage of the blockage. The medicines used for these pharmacologic tests include dobutamine and arbutamine and work to increase the contractions of the cardiac muscle. As with the treadmill or stationary bike exercise, electrodes are also attached to the patient for the pharmacologic test so the physician or assistant can monitor the hearts reaction. People who have asthma, who use a blood thinner, have had caffeine within 12 hours of the test or uncontrolled hypertension (blood pressure) cannot be a candidate for the pharmacologic cardio test.
As a person gets ready to take a heart stress test on a treadmill, the doctor will not want the patient to have eaten for at least four hours before the test. Additionally, liquids should not have been ingested unless there is a need to take some medication. In that case, sips of water only should be taken in order to get any pills down that are required. Even in the case of the typical pharmacological stress test using medicine like dobutamine, a person should not eat or drink four hours before the exam is scheduled. In the case of a Myoview heart stress test food and drink cannot be ingested for up to twelve hours before the scheduled exam. In the case of the Myoview test, a radioactive substance called Myoview will be injected to the bloodstream through the arm and while the treadmill or bicycle exercise is taking place, pictures of the heart’s action will be taken.
Any kind of medical exam can be frightening or at least stress producing before it actually occurs. If you are really afraid or anxious, sit down and talk to your physician in detail about the procedure. Maybe there would be an opportunity to watch a procedure in person. The more information you have, the less of the unknown there will be to create doubt and fear. Make sure and wear comfortable clothes to the exam and remember that this is a physical test and not a ticket to the Kentucky Derby. At the Derby, elegant clothes are a given; at this stress test, sneakers are welcomed with open arms.