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What an Exercise Stress Test Reveals About Your Heart Health

What an Exercise Stress Test Reveals About Your Heart Health

When healthy, the human heart tirelessly pumps blood to nourish every cell in the body. Unfortunately, heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death in the United States, claiming a life every 33 seconds.

One way of combatting heart-related mortality is identifying and treating conditions or areas of damage that interfere with blood flow through the heart. A stress test can do that.

The team at Premier Cardiology Consultants provides comprehensive and personalized cardiac care to people of all ages from multiple locations in and around New York City.

Read why these busy specialists often include stress testing when diagnosing and treating heart disease and what you can expect during the study.  

Understanding exercise stress testing

A stress test, also known as an exercise or treadmill test, is a diagnostic tool used to evaluate how well your heart performs when physically stressed.

The test involves monitoring your heart's response to increased exertion, typically through exercise, to assess its efficiency and identify potential abnormalities. If you’re unable to exercise, medication can mimic the effects of exertion on your heart.

What does a stress test reveal about your heart health?

Your Premier Cardiology Consultants provider may recommend exercise stress testing for various reasons, including:

Detecting coronary artery disease (CAD)

Stress tests can identify CAD, where blood vessels supplying the heart muscle become narrowed or blocked. Reduced blood flow to the heart during exercise can indicate the presence of CAD.

Assessing exercise tolerance

The test provides insights into your exercise capacity and how well your heart responds to physical exertion. This is helpful for individuals who are interested in starting a new or more aggressive exercise program or have been advised to undergo cardiac rehabilitation.

Evaluating heart rhythm

Abnormalities in heart rhythm (arrhythmias) that might go unnoticed at rest may become apparent during a stress test.

Unmasking symptoms

For individuals experiencing chest pain or discomfort, a stress test can help determine if these symptoms are related to heart issues. This aids in an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

Evaluating current cardiovascular treatments

You may also benefit from stress testing to evaluate the effectiveness of medications, stenting, or other treatments prescribed for known heart disease.

Additionally, your Premier Cardiology specialist may use the test to assess your heart health before surgery, after you’ve reached a certain age, or if you have a significant family history of early or sudden cardiac death.

What to expect during a stress test

There are several types of exercise stress tests, and your provider discusses the specific details before scheduling the study.

For instance, a stress echocardiogram uses ultrasound technology to capture images of your heart before and during exercise. A nuclear stress test is an advanced study that provides very detailed images of heart function as blood flows through arteries, chambers, and valves.    

Generally, however, a stress test includes:

Note that your vitals are carefully monitored throughout the study. Depending on your fitness level, the exercise portion of a stress test usually lasts for 7-12 minutes.

However, you are encouraged to stop exercising sooner if you feel you’ve reached your limit or experience significant shortness of breath, chest pain, or other concerning symptoms.

For more information about stress testing or other cardiac health services, schedule an evaluation at Premier Cardiology Consultants today.

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