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A cardiac stress test is the recording of the heart's activity while you exercise. Your heart is monitored by using electrodes to record the electrical activity it makes. Your heart's activity will also be monitored by seeing how your blood pressure and pulse change over the course of the test.
During physical activity, the body needs higher levels of oxygen, which it gets from blood. To get the blood to the organs faster during exercise, the heart has to work harder. A cardiac stress test is used to see if your heart still works well, even when it is working hard. The test is most often done:
- To evaluate if complaints of chest pain are related to the heart
- To determine if arteries to the heart have blockages or narrowing ( coronary heart disease or CHD )
- To identify an irregular heart rhythm or passing out that occurs during or after exercise
- To monitor the heart's response to treatment or procedures
- To determine a safe level of participation before the start of an exercise regimen
- To plan rehabilitation after a heart attack
A cardiac stress test presents minimal risk. Complications can include:
- Developing chest pain
- Developing an irregular heart rhythm
- Having a heart attack (extremely rare)
Technicians are alert for any signs of heart or lung problems. They are prepared to take immediate action if complications develop. A doctor (usually a cardiologist) will be readily available during the stress test as well.
Call Your Doctor
After the test, call your doctor if any of the following occurs:
- Chest pain
- Pounding in the chest
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Feeling extremely tired or having trouble breathing
In case of an emergency, call 911immediately.