Cardiac Stress Tests

Written by Norene Anderson
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Cardiac stress tests administered with the latest technology offer the technologist flexible programming to choose the protocol for every test personalized to the patient. Quick and easy entry of information using a touch screen with pull-down menus reduces the amount of time needed to prepare the patient for the test. The patient is generally apprehensive at the thoughts of the test, and anything to save time is of great significance in the results.

A cardiac stress test is generally given when a patient's symptoms cannot be identified by an ECG or blood tests. Symptoms such as shortness of breath or angina may be experienced only during or after exercise or strenuous labor. The stress test mimics the physical environment of various levels of exercise. Initially, a resting ECG is obtained to have a baseline to compare the effects of physical activity.

Process of Cardiac Stress Tests

The patient is attached to the leads from the ECG machine and a blood pressure cuff to monitor blood pressure at regular intervals during the test. The speed of the treadmill is gradually increased along with the incline. Each segment lasts for three minutes and the heart rate and blood pressure are automatically checked before going to the next level.

The test continues to maximal stress or until the patient shows symptoms or too much fatigue to continue. If the patient must stop the test due to symptoms, the patient is monitored until the symptoms subside and the blood pressure, pulse, and ECG readings return to normal. Cardiac stress tests evaluate coronary artery disease or cardiac arrhythmias.

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