Understanding Heart Rate Stress Tests

Understanding Heart Rate Stress Tests

A heart rate stress test is very important in this day and age.  According to the American Health Association, half of those who had heart attacks had never complained of any heart problem. That means most never knew that they were prone to a heart problem. This is where a heart rate stress test comes into play.

What a Stress Test Is

A heart rate stress test, also known as a cardiac stress test, stress test or exercise electrocardiography, diagnoses coronary heart diseases. It will let you know if your heart is pumping effectively or if there is an artery blockage. It is also used to identify possible causes of chest pain, dizziness, fainting, or even to test the strength of one's heart. The procedure takes about an hour.

The test works with an electrocardiogram (ECG); a machine that is connected to the patient's body by way of electrodes. These measure the heart's activity. The patient is made to exercise, usually on a treadmill, starting with a low-intensity activity.

The heartbeats per minute are taken prior to the procedure, and they are continuously monitored during the test. Gradually, the exercises are increased, so that the patient has to exert more and the heart's activity is noted. With more physical activity, the heart has to pump out more blood to supply enough oxygen for the body. The final result is calculated on the basis of the reading prior to the test and those taken during the test.

What Does It Tell You

A heart rate stress identifies any irregularity, change or blockage in your heart. If the test is taken more than two times, it can tell if a doctor's medicines have been working or not. The blood pressure reading and heart beats per minute are taken.

Precautions to Take

It is important to note that the stress test is not an easy one, and certain precautions need to be kept in mind. Firstly, it is advisable to avoid alcohol and caffeine for 3 hours prior to the test. Moreover, inform the doctor of any heavy medicines that you are taking. Wear loose clothing and comfortable shoes. People who have taken Viagra in the last 24 hours should tell the doctor about it, as doctors tend to give nitroglycerin to relieve chest pain and a combination of the two can make the blood pressure dip really low. Most importantly, tell the doctor immediately if you experience chest pain, dizziness or fainting.

Life has its own share of daily troubles. Why add more when you can some of it can be prevented? Make an appointment with the heart specialist at the earliest and learn to live life to the fullest.