What is a stress test?

A stress test measures how your heart performs during physical activity when your heart pumps harder or faster.  At the Heart Institute of East Texas, heart stimulation is either provided by exercising on a treadmill or injection of intravenous vasodilators. The latter is used when medical problems prevent a person from being able to complete the necessary exercise; this is called a pharmacologic stress test. During the stress test, your heart rate and blood pressure are monitored throughout.

What preparation is required for a stress test?

You may eat a light breakfast such as cereal, toast, or oatmeal and drink either water, milk or orange juice up to 3 hours before your test. No smoking, dipping or vaping 12 hours prior to your test. NO caffeine, no coffee (even decaf), no teas, no sodas for 12 hours prior to your test. If you use an inhaler for asthma or other breathing problems, bring it to the test, and tell your technician.  Pleases clarify with your physician about medications to take before the stress test. PLEASE BRING ALL OF YOUR MEDICATIONS WITH YOU TO YOUR TEST.

Exercise (lasts 15-30 minutes for set-up and testing):
Wear loose, comfortable clothing and tennis shoes or close-toed shoes and bring a bottle of water to your test. Generally, you are able to go about your normal daily activities after the test.

What is a nuclear stress test?

Commonly known as myocardial perfusion imaging, a nuclear stress test utilizes the distribution of an intravenous dose of the radiotracer (Tc-99m Sestamibi or Rubidium-82) to capture images of the blood flow using a special camera.  Photos are taken before and after exercise to assess the patient’s arteries.  The radioisotopes found within the heart muscles help identify areas of reduced blood flow During these exams, you will be closely monitored by healthcare personnel at the Heart Institute of East Texas to ensure you are well. The stress test can be a treadmill exercise or a medication induced stress test.

Who needs a stress test?

A stress test may be ordered if:

  • You have been experiencing chest pains or shortness of breath.
  • You feel lightheaded or faint.
  • Experience a rapid heartbeat during exercise.
  • You’ve been diagnosed with coronary heart disease or recently suffered a heart attack.
  • You had an angioplasty with or without stent placement.
  • Previous Heart Attack with Recurrence of Symptoms.

Resource: Web MD

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