Did you know?
A POOR WORKOUT MAY SIGNAL A HEART PROBLEM
Your workouts not only boost your heart health, they can also serve as your body’s “check engine” light.
If you spend a few sessions in a row struggling to run the same pace or complete the same circuit you usually do for no apparent reason, talk to your doctor.
Sometimes called a treadmill test, the test helps the doctor to find out how well your heart handles work. As the body works harder during the test, it requires more oxygen, so the heart must pump more blood. The test can show if the blood supply is reduced in the arteries that supply the heart. It also helps doctors know the kind and level of exercise appropriate for a patient.
The patient may be asked not to eat, drink, or smoke two hours or more before the test. Caffeine or some medications can interfere with the stress test and the patient should ask the doctor if it is to be avoided on the day before the test. Else, the patient can take their medications as usual. If the patient uses an inhaler for asthma or other breathing problem, it is important to let the doctor know that the patient uses it and will be asked to bring it to the test. Lastly, the patient needs to wear or bring comfortable clothes and walking shoes to the test.
The patient is hooked up to the equipment to monitor the heart. Then the patient walks slowly in place on a treadmill as the speed is increased at a faster pace while the treadmill is tilted like going up in a small hill. The patient may be asked to breath into a tube for a couple of minutes and afterward, the patient will have to sit or lie down to have their heart and blood pressure checked.
The heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, electrocardiogram (ECG), and how worn-out the patient feels is monitored during the test and depending on these results, the physician may recommend further tests such as a nuclear stress test or cardiac catheterization.
Exercise Stress Tests
The patient may not need any further tests if the result from the exercise stress test reveals that the patient’s heart functions are normal. However, if the results are normal and the symptoms continue or become worse, the doctor may recommend that the patient should have a nuclear stress test or another exercise stress test that includes an echocardiogram before and after exercise. These tests are more accurate and provide more information about the patient’s heart function but are much likely expensive.
If the purpose of the exercise stress test was to guide treatment for the patient’s heart condition, the doctor will use data from the test to establish or modify the treatment plan, as needed.
If the results of the exercise stress test suggest coronary artery disease or reveal an arrhythmia, the information gathered during the test will be used to help the doctor develop a treatment plan. The patient may need additional tests and evaluations, such as a coronary angiogram, depending on the findings.