Exercise stress testing is an important diagnostic tool for suspected coronary artery disease. If your physician believes that you may have coronary artery disease or another heart-related issue, then this diagnostic test can provide essential information.
At Champion Heart and Vascular Center, we frequently use exercise stress testing to help our cardiac patients take a proactive approach to their health. In this article, we’re sharing the top reasons why exercise stress testing is used and what exactly it entails:
When is exercise stress testing recommended?
Diagnosing coronary artery disease
Coronary artery disease occurs when plaque (fatty deposits) builds up in the arteries. As plaque builds up, this causes the channels within the arteries to narrow, which reduces blood flow. This also makes it harder for your body to circulate oxygen and nutrients throughout your body.
One of the biggest concerns of coronary artery disease is that it can lead to a heart attack. If coronary artery disease is suspected, then your doctor may recommend exercise stress testing. This diagnostic test can detect arteries that are severely narrowed, and it can predict the risk of a heart attack.
When the patient has frequent chest pain, shortness of breath, or lightheadedness
Chest pain, shortness of breath, and feeling lightheaded are all possible symptoms of heart disease and heart-related problems. Angina pectoris is the technical term we use when referring to chest pain caused by coronary heart disease. When the heart’s arteries are blocked or narrowed, then the heart muscles don’t get the essential blood they need, leading to chest pain and discomfort.
Shortness of breath and feeling lightheaded are also red flags for possible cardiovascular problems. These symptoms may appear suddenly before a heart attack or blood clot, but in many cases, they gradually develop over time.
Narrowed aortic valves can cause breathing problems, especially during and after physical activity. Feeling out of breath can also be caused by heart failure. However, these symptoms can also overlap with many other conditions not related to heart disease. This is why undergoing an exercise stress test can be helpful. Based on the results, your doctor can either rule out heart disease, or run further tests to identify the exact cause of your heart condition.
Determining the effectiveness of heart procedures
Exercise stress testing isn’t just used for diagnostic purposes. It can also be used to measure the effectiveness of a heart procedure, such as bypass surgery. Similarly, it can help doctors determine a safe level of exercise for certain patients, especially those who have a history of heart disease.
What happens during exercise stress testing?
Typically, a patient undergoing a stress test walks on a treadmill while hooked up to medical equipment that monitors the heart. The pace is eventually increased and the treadmill is tilted at an incline. During this process, you may also be asked to breathe into a tube, which measures your ability to breathe during exercise.
Afterward, your heart and blood pressure are taken. The results can give your doctor a full picture of how your body responds to exercise, how well your heart performs, and whether or not there is a risk of heart disease that warrants further testing.
Do you need exercise stress testing in North Carolina? Give us a call
Champion Heart and Vascular Center is a leading provider of interventional cardiology and vascular care. Contact us today to speak with a doctor about exercise stress testing. We have convenient locations in both Henderson and Dunn, NC.