Everyone knows that your heart pumps faster when you’re working out, but did you know that doctors can use exercise to gauge the health of your heart? Stress tests can help diagnose heart problems, monitor existing conditions, and inform treatment decisions.
At Indus Cardiology, with offices in Pomona, West Covina, and Montclair, California, Dr. Yogesh Paliwal and our team conduct stress testing to gather information on how well your heart is doing its job. Here’s what you should know about the process.
The purpose of a stress test
The most basic stress test is a stress electrocardiogram, or stress EKG. We attach pads with wires to your chest and back, then have you walk on a treadmill until your heart reaches the right rate. Changes in the EKG will tell us if your heart is experiencing difficulty. We monitor your blood pressure as well, and keep a close eye on your stats to make sure you’re not in any danger.
What a stress test can tell you
A stress test can show if your heart has trouble when it’s under increased pressure. We look for signs that it’s unduly stressed due to coronary artery disease or abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmia). Many things will show up on an EKG during a stress test that wouldn’t otherwise be noticeable, making this a very useful test to identify where your heart is working harder than it should.
What to expect from your stress test
When you come in for your EKG stress test, you should wear comfortable clothing and shoes so you can walk easily on the treadmill. We may instruct you not to eat or drink for a period of time before your test. If you are on medication, we review the list and may tell you to skip certain medications for a day or two before your test.
Just like with a normal EKG, we attach small electrodes to your chest and back to pick up your heart signals. We ask you to start walking slowly at first, then gradually pick up speed until you reach the elevation of heart rate required. If at any point during the stress test we see that you are at risk, the test is immediately discontinued.
If your stress test shows problems with your heart function, we may order other tests and lab work to pinpoint the issue and help us create a treatment plan. We may recommend exercise, dietary changes, quitting bad habits like smoking, and medication to lower cholesterol or blood pressure.
To learn more about stress testing and how it can help pinpoint potential heart issues, call our location closest to you or visit the contact page to schedule a consultation today.