Stress tests are one of the best tools for diagnosing heart disease, and some research suggest that they may also be useful in estimating disease risk in people who don’t have symptoms but do have risk factors such as high cholesterol.
Stress tests ordered by your physician are available at Banner Lassen Medical Center Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. A pre-authorization may be needed so be sure to check with your insurance. For more information call us at (530) 252-2000.
A stress test at Banner Lassen Medical Center may be recommended in patients over 40 with a risk for coronary artery disease because of smoking, high blood pressure or other risk factors.
- What is a stress test?
- Why is it done?
- How is it done?
- What is the process for scheduling a stress test?
- A stress test can be done with or without dye, depending on what your physician orders.
- Stress tests are usually done with exercise or with medication to get your heart rate up to measure your heart’s function.
- Sticky patches or electrodes are attached to the chest and shoulders and connected to electrodes or wires. These help to record the electrocardiogram during the echocardiography test. Then you spend about 10 minutes walking on a treadmill to get your heart pumping faster. You will walk on the treadmill first slowly then at three-minute intervals, speed and grade is increased. When you reach about 85 percent of your maximum heart rate, the EKG is repeated, allowing your physician to see how the heart is functioning when it’s pumping fast compared with at rest. This takes about 30 minutes from start to finish. After the procedure, you will sit for the recovery phase, where you will be monitored. As soon as your stress test portion is complete, you will get some caffeine and a snack. Your blood pressure, heart rate and heart rhythm will be monitored throughout the testing.
- The second step to your test occurs if your doctor has ordered a Nuclear Medicine Stress test. You will be given dye by the Nuclear Medicine Technologist for a resting scan that is done in radiology, then you will go back to the cardiopulmonary department for the exercise portion as described above with a second dose of dye. The last part of the test will be done in radiology and is called the post-exercise scan of your heart. The total length of this test is usually two to three hours.
- Before your test, you will ne advised about what medications, including caffeine and nicotine that need to be avoided 12 hours prior to the test.
- If arthritis or other conditions make you unable to exercise, the doctor can give you a medication that helps speed up your heartbeat without exertion
- Please wear comfortable loose fitting clothes, preferably two pieces (top and shorts or pants) and comfortable walking shoes. Avoid eating a large meal right before the test.
- People with possible heart ailments worry that putting stress on their hearts will cause a heart attack or other problem, but complications from stress tests are rare.
- A cardiologist will read and interpret the results of your stress test and an interpretation of the test will be forwarded to the ordering physician as soon as it is interpreted by the cardiologist.
Remember to always take heart symptoms seriously and go to the nearest Emergency department if you are experiencing chest pain.
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