What Is a Stress Test?
By Grand Rapids Cardiology
February 19, 2020
Category: Cardiology
Tags: Stress  

A stress test is an invaluable tool for assessing your risk for developing heart disease. Stress tests can also be administered to patients already diagnosed with heart disease to help doctors monitor symptoms, such as shortness of breath or an irregular heartbeat. At Grand Rapids Cardiology in Grand Rapids, cardiologist Dr. Ronald VanderLaan cab determine if you could benefit from undergoing a stress test.

How Stress Tests Work

If you are at an increased risk for developing heart disease or have already been diagnosed with it, your cardiologist might recommend a stress test. Such tests can reveal whether or not you are experiencing certain symptoms associated with heart disease, including shortness of breath, chest pain, and an irregular heartbeat. Dr. VanderLaan can determine if are a candidate for undergoing a stress test.

Stress tests are usually performed while the patient exercises, which allows the doctor to observe how your heart responds to the stress of moderate physical activity. Electrodes are attached to the arms, legs, and chest. As the patient exercises on a treadmill, stationary bike, or similar piece of exercise equipment, the electrodes transmit data about the heart’s activity to a monitor where the information can be interpreted by medical professionals.

Alternatively, a medicine can be administered to patients who are unable to exercise. The medicine prompts the heart to respond in the same way it would if the patient was exercising. This enables the cardiologist to still gather data about how the heart responds to physical stress. However the stress test is administered, it will be stopped immediately if a patient’s heartbeat becomes irregular or the blood pressure drops.

Another option is the nuclear stress test, in which a small amount of radioactive tracer material is administered into a vein prior to exercising. As blood flows through the vein to the heart, the radioactive substance travels with it. A special camera with the ability to detect the tracer is used to capture images of the heart while the patient exercises. This allows the cardiologist to determine if there is sufficient blood flow to the heart when the patient is engaging in physical activity.

A stress test can help your cardiologist monitor your heart health if you are at an increased risk for developing heart disease or have already been diagnosed with it. To learn more about stress tests and whether or not you need one, schedule an appointment with Dr. VanderLaan at our cardiology office in Grand Rapids by calling Grand Rapids Cardiology at (616) 717-5141.