A cardiac stress test is a non-invasive procedure that does not cause any overt pain. However, patients still tend to get nervous when they are scheduled to have this test. Perhaps this is because there is a lot of uncertainty as to what a cardiac stress test actually involves and why it is necessary. The more you know, the more comfortable you will feel, so take a look at these questions and answers before the day your stress test arrives.
What should you wear?
Since you will be active during your stress test, it is important that you wear clothing you're comfortable being active in. Wear clothing that is breathable and non-restrictive, along with comfortable running shoes. Make sure your top is loose enough that your doctor will be able to fit electrodes under it. Some doctors like to have their patients change into hospital tops for a stress test, but by wearing a looser shirt, you are at least leaving this option open.
What if you're not capable of running?
A traditional stress test has the patient run on the treadmill until they reach their maximum heart rate. But if you are not capable of running, that's okay. You can ride an exercise bike until you reach your maximum heart rate instead. If even that is too hard, there are drugs your doctor can administer to artificially raise your heart rate, but those are only used when absolutely necessary. If you need to take any pain relievers in order to be able to pedal or run comfortably, call your doctor up before your stress test and make sure the drugs won't interfere with the test.
What will your doctor be measuring?
Your doctor will be measuring several things: your blood pressure, your heart rate, and your oxygen levels during and after exercise. If your tests indicate that your arteries may be partially blocked or that your heart is beating at an irregular rhythm, then you may be sent for additional tests, such as an electrocardiogram or EKG. However, if your stress test shows good results, your doctor may stop there and assure you that your heart is in good shape.
Cardiac stress tests can be a little uncomfortable since you have to work out a bit, but they are not painful. They are a great way to assess heart health, which is why they are so widely used. Contact a company that provides stress testing for more information.
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