Exercise Stress Test

EXERCISE STRESS TEST

Overview

The human life is defined by activity and it is common to have heard an inactive person being called “lifeless”. All this activity is sustained by the blood pumping through the heart. Hence, it is imperative that the heart is working at an optimal pace.

How to diagnose Exercise Stress Test

Sometimes, there may be a need to test how your heart is performing under stress of the activities.
This is especially important if:-
  • You are at a risk of having a coronary disease
  • You are facing irregular heartbeats (arrhythmia)
  • Your doctor suspects some heart related issues and wants to investigate further
The most common way to check your heart’s performance under stress is to conduct the cardiac exercise stress test. Although the name may sound scary, the test itself isn’t. It is a simple non-invasive procedure, where your doctor measures the heart rate and blood pressure while you are exercising.

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Procedure

The cardiac exercise stress test procedure is not complicated, but definitely needs some amount of preparation. To start with, have a discussion with your doctor, informing them about any medical history (especially if you have diabetes or already have a heart problem), the medicines you are taking (if any), whether you may be pregnant, whether you consume alcohol or smoke, how often do you exercise and at what intensity. On the day of your exercise stress test, ensure the following:-
  • Take any medicines only after consulting your doctor and in the prescribed dosage
  • Avoid caffeinated and caffeine free drinks
  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes for exercising
During your cardiac exercise stress test procedure, your doctor will first conduct an ECG to baseline your parameters. Then you will be asked to exercise at different intensities with the electrodes still attached. The doctor and the attendant will constantly be monitoring your parameters. The test will continue till you reach a target heart rate or start feeling discomfort. Ensure to let your doctor know if you are feeling any of the following during your exercise ECG stress test –
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Minor to severe chest pain
  • Nausea

Risk of Exercise Stress Test

The exercise stress test is generally risk free, since it is conducted in a controlled and monitored environment. In extremely rare cases, there might be a risk of the patient having
  • Low Blood Pressure
  • Fainting
  • Heart Attack

You will require nearly half an hour to resume normal heart rate post the exercise stress test. The overall test may need close to an hour.

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