Three Things a Stress Test Can Tell Us About Your Heart Health

Three Things a Stress Test Can Tell Us About Your Heart Health

Have you been told you need a stress test? Also called an exercise stress test, this diagnostic procedure involves exercising for a set period of time while your heart and breathing are closely monitored.

Stress tests are painless and noninvasive, and they offer valuable insight into your heart health. In fact, stress tests can diagnose arrhythmia, estimate your risk of heart disease, and more. 

Dr. Kunal Patel and our team at NJ Cardiovascular Institute offer diagnostic stress tests as part of our comprehensive heart care services. If you’re considering a stress test, here’s what this simple screening can tell us about your heart.

What a stress test does

Stress tests give Dr. Patel and our team a few major insights into your heart health. We use stress testing to:

1. Evaluate how well your heart functions when you’re active

Exercising creates a demand on your body that makes your heart work harder and your blood pump faster. When your heart is working harder, potential issues with your arteries or your heart itself may be easier to identify than when you’re at rest.

When you participate in a stress test, our team monitors your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing. Your heart rate rises as you exercise, and we can see changes in your heart function and breathing rate throughout the test. These results give us insight into your physical fitness, as well as your overall heart health.

2. Identify arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats)

An arrhythmia is an irregular heartbeat that’s caused by changes in your heart’s electrical signals. An arrhythmia can feel like an uncomfortable fluttering or racing heart, and it may occur when your heart is beating too fast or too slow. While arrhythmias don’t always mean you have a more serious heart issue, some types of arrhythmia get worse with exercise.

Dr. Patel may order a stress test if you have symptoms of a heart arrhythmia. Our team watches your heartbeat for irregularities during your stress test. We may recommend additional testing, such as an echocardiogram.

3. Determine your risk of coronary artery disease

Often, the main purpose of stress testing is to determine your risk of coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD is one of the most common types of heart disease, and it develops when the primary arteries that supply your heart get damaged or blocked.

Your stress test can tell Dr. Patel and our team if you have 70% or greater blockage in a one or more coronary arteries. If you do, you may have CAD. Stress testing alone can’t confirm heart disease, so Dr. Patel may order additional tests to confirm a diagnosis.

What to expect during your stress test

Dr. Patel may order a stress test if you have risk factors for CAD or symptoms of a heart problem. It’s a simple noninvasive test that gives our team valuable information about the state of your heart.

On the day of your stress test, our team attaches electrodes to your body and places a blood pressure cuff on your arm. You walk on a treadmill or ride a stationary bike until your heart rate reaches a predetermined target. We monitor your vital signs and how you’re feeling, then you stop exercising and we remove the monitors.

Once your results are ready, Dr. Patel reviews his findings with you. If he identifies heart disease, starting a treatment plan can help manage your symptoms and reduce your risk of complications.

Our Heart Smart Program gives you the education and tools you need to make heart-healthy changes in your life. We work with you to monitor your health, and we may recommend future stress tests to track changes over time.

A stress test tells Dr. Patel how well your heart works under pressure, and whether a serious condition could be threatening your health. To find out if you could benefit from a stress test, contact our offices in Lakewood, Newark, Paramus, or Secaucus, New Jersey, or book an appointment online now.

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