Questions Patients Often Have Before A Cardiovascular Stress Test

Posted on: 16 June 2020

If your doctor has reason to suspect you may suffer from heart disease, then they will probably send you for what is known as a stress test. This test will involve challenging your body to the max athletically and monitoring the way your heart responds to the athletic challenge. The idea of having to run on a treadmill while your doctor watches your heart rate rise can be a bit intimidating, so it's only natural that you'd have some questions as your testing date looms. Below, you should find the answers.

How is your heart rate monitored?

You may have heard that you'll need to run with an IV in your arm or, worse yet, a catheter in a vein. This is not true. The only equipment you'll have on you during the test is some sticky nodes that are connected to an EKG machine. These nodes measure electrical impulses so your doctor can track the heart's activity. The nodes may be a little annoying as you run, but they won't cause any pain or discomfort. 

What if you can't run due to arthritis or another injury?

If you are worried that running will be painful for your joints, call your doctor's office and tell them this in advance. They can arrange to have you work out on an elliptical machine or even an exercise bike instead. A treadmill is usually the default since you can't cheat — you have to keep up with the treadmill's speed — but an alternative exercise can be used if needed. The goal, after all, is to get your heart rate up.

How long will you have to exercise?

Don't worry; you don't have to run a marathon or even a 5k. Most people end up spending about 10 minutes actually exercising. The more fit you are and the better shape your heart is in, the longer you'll be running since it will take you longer to reach your top heart rate. The reason your appointment is probably blocked in for an hour is so that the doctor can adequately discuss the results of your test after it is complete. You won't be exercising for most of that time.

Stress tests can be intimidating, but there's truly no need to be nervous. This type of test is not at all invasive, and it's no harder than having to participate in high school sports! You lived through that, and you'll live through the stress test, too.

Contact a clinic like Alpert Zales & Castro Pediatric Cardiology to learn more.