Understanding the Stress Test

Many medical tests provide information about your heart while it’s at rest, but it’s also important to know how well your heart works when you’re asking it to perform under heavier stress.  The stress test is designed to measure your heart when it’s working a little harder.

 When you go to take the stress test, you’ll be hooked up to monitors with sensors.  These are not going to deliver electricity to you; they’ll simply measure your electrical activity.  Then you’ll be asked to walk on a treadmill.

Gradually your pace will be increased and you may end up at a slight jog.  The treadmill will also be tilted at an incline to simulate walking or jogging uphill. While you’re performing on the treadmill, measurements of your heart rate, blood pressure, fatigue, respiration, and your heart’s electrical activity are being taken.

When you’re finished with the test, you’re then asked to rest and measurements are continued to get an idea of your recovery. Stress tests are used to diagnose heart problems, but they’re also used to help your doctor determine a safe level of exercise for you.

The stress test is used to determine the cause of chest pain and to predict your probability of having a heart attack.  It can give a lot of information, but it doesn’t provide a complete picture.  Depending on the results of your stress test, you may have to take further diagnostic examinations.

Many people are intimidated by the idea of the stress test.  You should know that you can stop the test at any time if you need a break.  You’ll also be monitored by medical personnel to make sure that nothing goes wrong and to take care of any problems.

This test is invaluable when it comes to your heart health.  It gives a much better idea of how your heart works when you’re physically active as opposed to sitting still.  This is the kind of activity that’s more likely to put a strain on your heart, so it’s important to measure it.

If your doctor prescribes a stress test, you may be asked to go to a different location.  Be prepared to spend some time at the testing facility as this test can take up to an hour.  You should also wear comfortable clothing and supportive shoes.  You should get your official results within a week, but you may be able to get a preliminary idea from the doctor who administers the test.


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