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Exercise Cardiac Stress Tests: What They Are And What They Can Tell You

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Cardiologists not only help people who have a history of heart disease, but they are also trained to test otherwise healthy patients when they are having signs of possible heart problems. One way a cardiologist can help learn about the health of your heart, as well as its level of function, is by giving you a cardiac stress test.

What Are Exercise Cardiac Stress Tests?

Stress tests are conducted to assess your heart's ability to perform the basic functions that it needs to be able to do to work correctly. You need to put stress on your heart in order to gauge its performance. These stress tests are normally done by hooking you up to various types of monitoring equipment, such as an ECG or EKG machines, and then having vital signs and other data monitored by physicians as you begin to walk on a treadmill.

This treadmill is normally specifically tuned for performing these types of test. You will walk slowly in place and then reach intervals where your speed will increase and your incline will change, thus causing your body to work and heart to work harder.

The harder your heart works the more blood is being pumped through your heart, which gives off the valuable data that doctors need. If exercise is not a viable option for you, a doctor may recommend a Adenosine or Dobutamine Stress test, which allows a drug to be injected that will help the heart simulate exercise from which the cardiologist can get readings.

Other types of tests include the echocardiogram, which is used to track heart movement, as well as a nuclear stress test, which allows physicians to clearly see which areas of the heart are fully healthy and which parts are not functioning at peak levels. In the nuclear test, a specialty camera is used to display heart tissue and can show early warnings of decreased blood supply. After your initial test has been completed, your blood pressure will be checked and compared by a physician or nurse to ensure beginning and end results are in order.

What Are They Used To Diagnose?

Skilled physicians can use these tests to diagnose a number of possibly serious heart diseases and defects, including but not limited to coronary artery disease, high risk of heart attack, and abnormal blood flow or heart rhythms. If you're already on heart medication, the test can be used to gauge the effectiveness of it and whether or not your doctor needs to prescribe alternative treatment. Stress tests can also be used to find your ceiling for exercise and physical workloads, allowing your doctor to helpfully map out what your body is capable of doing, so that you can live a healthier life.

When Should I Take One?

For most people who have a regular primary care physician, your doctor will be keyed in on various health issues, including risk of coronary artery disease, and will be able to recommend the test as needed. For those who like to play hide-and-go-seek with health issues, knowing when an exercise stress test is right for you might be slightly more complex. If you are having symptoms of heart problems, such as shortness of breath or abnormal fatigue, report them to your doctor so that he can recommend a cardiologist to ensure that your heart is healthy and strong

Cardiac stress tests are one easy way that a cardiologist can determine what, if any, problems your heart is having. They can then help you build a treatment plan, with things such as medication, as well as exercise and diet routines, to help address any possible issues that they detect. Click here for more information.