Cardiac Stress Testing
Watching the heart at work
A heart at rest may not always show signs of the sort of problems that can occur when the heart is working hard. That’s why Huggins Hospital offers cardiac stress testing. The information a stress test provides can help your physician assess your heart’s health and identify what level of exercise you can safely undertake.
Your physician may recommend that you have one of the following tests performed at Huggins Hospital:
Stress/Exercise Testing involves studying the heart while under maximum cardiac stress. It allows a technician to measure the heart's efficiency when subjected to predetermined exercise or cardiac medications. Patients may walk on a treadmill or lie still under a camera depending on how the physician wants to see the heart function. The exercise portion usually lasts 5-15 minutes, but you’ll want to plan on the entire test-taking for at least an hour. During the test, your blood pressure and your heart’s electrical activity will be monitored by physicians and highly trained hospital staff.
Stress Echocardiogram is a combination of an echocardiogram and an exercise stress test. First, you’ll be given a pre-exercise echocardiogram – a painless test that uses ultrasound waves to create an image of the heart. Next, your blood pressure and heart activity will be monitored while you walk on a treadmill, and when the desired heart rate has been achieved, you’ll be given a post-exercise echocardiogram.
Nuclear Stress Test is one of the most accurate tests available. It not only provides information about the heart’s electrical activity, it allows physicians to see the heart muscle. In this test, a small amount of a nuclear isotope is injected into a vein, usually in the arm, in order to check for areas of the heart that are blocked or damaged. This two-part procedure observes the heart both at rest and during exercise. If you are unable to exercise, an injection of a medication can be given to simulate the effect of exercise on the heart. After your test, the results will be reviewed by one of our experienced cardiologists.
Whatever test you’ll be taking, remember our goal is to have you feel safe and comfortable before, during, and after your test, so, in addition to the explanation your physician will provide, we answer all your concerns and carefully describe what you can expect at each point in the testing process.
For further information about cardiac stress testing, consult with your health care provider or call the Cardio-Pulmonary Department at 603.569.7567.