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Heart and Circulatory System

What is a cardiac stress test?

A Answers (4)

  • Cardiac stress tests measure the health of your heart while it is working hard. In a stress test, you exercise to increase your heart's workload, which increases the blood flowing to your heart. If you are unable to exercise, medication is used to increase the blood flow to the heart. Depending on your condition and which type of stress test you have, your heart's response is measured in various ways, which may include electrocardiograms (EKGs or ECGs) and imaging tests. These tests help your doctor assess blood flow to different areas of the heart muscle.
  • The heart rate stress test, also called a cardiac stress test, is a tool used to estimate the upper limit that a patient's heart can safely beat during physical activity within a short period of time, a measure called the maximum heart rate. The maximum heart rate is sometimes abbreviated as HRmax or MHR. The heart rate stress test also compares the rate that the heart beats at rest versus during exercise. This upper limit is partially determined by blood flow to one part of the heart.

    Calculating a person's maximum heart rate through a heart rate stress test or equation has been of interest to medical science, in particular exercise physiology, since the early 1930s. Though other methods exist, the heart rate stress test is considered the most reliable and accurate means of safely measuring the maximum heart rate.

    The heart rate stress test is sometimes used to estimate the physical fitness of a person and can be used by health care professionals such as physical therapists, to plan the type and duration of exercise that a person may need.

    The heart rate stress test is part of the procedure for diagnosing coronary artery disease and possible causes of chest pain. The test is also part of the standard evaluation of determining the likelihood that a patient will have a heart attack.

    The test is also given to evaluate how effective treatment for a heart condition has been and to estimate the patient's health prospects in the future.

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  • Cardiac stress tests or “treadmill tests” are used to help determine the cause of chest pain. These tests serve as a guide for further testing and treatment and may be performed in conjunction with echocardiograms and nuclear cardiac imaging if further evaluation is needed.

  • A cardiac stress test measures the heart's ability to respond to external stress, such as strenuous physical exercise. It records the heart's activity using electrodes while you exercise for about 15 minutes on a treadmill or stationary bike. The test also takes into account how your blood pressure and pulse change over the course of the activity. All of this helps determine if your heart still works well, even when it is working hard. A cardiac stress test is one common diagnostic test for atrial fibrillation.
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