What is a Cardiac Stress Test – What to Expect
A cardiac stress test is also known as an exercise stress test, and it indicates how your heart functions during physical activity. This is because physical activities make your heart pump faster and harder; this test can show problems with blood flow within your heart.
Did you know that the threshold for cardiovascular disease and cardiac arrest around the world is 65 years? However, in the UAE, people as young as 45 years get cardiovascular diseases. Cardiovascular diseases are the leading causes of death in the UAE because the region has all the risk factors.
Why Should You Take a Cardiac Stress Test?
Your doctor may ask you to take a treadmill exercise test to find out if you’re responding to heart treatment, have heart-related problems like chest pains and difficulty breathing. A cardiac stress test also determines if you are suitable for the cardiac rehabilitation program or exercise program, and if so, the level of intensity suitable for you. The test also determines whether you need other tests to detect narrow arteries. It is also suitable to show whether you have arrhythmia, abnormal heart disease, or irregular heartbeat.
When your heart pumps harder during a treadmill exercise test, the test can show problems like poor blood supply via the coronary arteries. These problems might not be easy to detect at any time. Your heart beats irregularly when the electrical impulses that control heart rhythm are damaged.
This exercise also determines whether your heart gets enough oxygen and that there is adequate blood flow, especially when you’re exercising. The doctor might also do this rest for people who experience chest pains and other symptoms of coronary heart disease. A cardiac stress test can be used to determine your overall health.
What to Expect During a Cardiac Stress Test
Cardiac stress test shows any problems with how blood flows in your heart
Although the cardiac stress test takes about 10 – 15 minutes, the first part takes about 30 – 45 minutes. Below is what you ought to do and what to expect.
Before the Test
Before the cardiac stress test in Dubai, the specialist will ask about your medical history and also a physical exam. At this point, you ought to tell the physician about your symptoms, especially if you have chest pains and difficulty breathing. You should also tell the doctor if you have any conditions that might make exercising difficult, like joint pain. Also, inform your doctor if you have diabetes because exercising affects blood sugar. This will help the physician to monitor your blood sugar levels as you exercise.
During test day, wear loose, comfortable clothing, and shoes. The physician will also give you further instructions. Skip a meal; this enables you to exercise longer and safely compared to when you are full. You should also be aware of which pills to take. Some medicines low down your heart rate, so consult your doctor for further advice. Avoid caffeine and over-the-counter medications that contain caffeine for at least 24 hours. Although daily exercises are not necessary, you should at least have a daily activity.
During the Test
The first step includes taking the first set of pictures. The physician starts an IV line in your arm then injects you with Myoview or another similar drug. After the drug takes effect, the first set of pictures of your heart are taken as you lie under a nuclear imaging scanner. This medication showcases areas in your heart that are utilizing oxygen.
If your heart is healthy, the highlighted part looks like a horseshoe. The goal is for rest and stress images to look the same even if they show defects. The physician will also look for problems that might be visible before taking the test. If there are problems, you might be referred to a cardiologist.
The next step is for you to take the stress test, which is the treadmill exercise test. You are required to walk on a treadmill. The machine’s speed increases steadily until the physician decides you need to stop or you reach your target heart rate. Once this is achieved, the specialist injects you with Myoview again. You have to stay on the treadmill for at least a minute for the medication to circulate. Another type of stress test has your heart stressed by injecting another medication, which allows you to skip the treadmill if you have a condition that requires you to do so. The physician monitors your heart rate as it gets back to normalcy.
When the exercise part is done, you are required to eat and then get back to your physician after 2 hours. After this, you will have a second set of pictures taken. There is no restriction on what you eat before this set of pictures.
After the Test
After the tests, you get the results, which might indicate that you have normal blood flow during rest and exercise. It might also show no dye on some portions on your heart, which indicates tissue damage. The test might also show inadequate blood flow when exercising and resting which, might indicate that you have coronary heart disease. The results might display normal blood flow when resting, but not as you exercise, which might be an indication of a blocked artery.
If your tests are normal, you will not require further tests. If the results show that you have a blocked artery, further tests are conducted, or you might require surgery. This might include a balloon angioplasty, which a minimally invasive surgery; it involves cardiac catheterization to open your blocked arteries. This procedure might take 30 minutes to 2 hours, but it usually lasts for an hour. Other surgery interventions include stent placement, which is a tiny tube placed into a blocked artery to keep it open. A coronary artery bypass directs blood around a blocked artery.
If the doctor suggests a cardiac stress test, you should not be worried, even if you’ve ever had a heart attack. This test is used to determine the blood flow and supply around your heart. If there are any problems, there are various ways to intervene.