Stress Test

stress test in tijuana

An electrocardiography is a test used to assess possible alterations in the electrical activity of the heart during a situation of physical stress. This test is requested when the baseline electrocardiogram hasn’t registered alterations that do not appear while resting.

The most common type of stress test is the ekg recording obtained while the patient is running on an endless belt (treadmill), the least used is the one while riding a stationary bicycle.

Grupo Cardiovascular de Tijuana

Misión de San Diego 1527, Zona Urbana Rio Tijuana, 22010 Tijuana, B.C.

How is the test performed?

The medical provider will place adhesive electrodes on different areas of the body, mostly on the chest, through these electrodes the ekg tracing gets recorded. The test requires the presence of a doctor to monitor the patient's blood pressure and heart rate, the electrodes will record the electrical activity of the heart and will allow the doctor to be on alert to identify any alteration that the patient may develop while running on the treadmill.

Part of the process of the study, the patient must walk on a treadmill while the speed and slope increase every few minutes until the patient gets tired, fatigued or the appearance of any symptoms such as chest pain or dizziness, these kind of developments may lead to early discontinuation of the study, or the doctor can determine that the procedure should be stopped.

Patient preparation prior to a stress test

As with any diagnostic test, the patient should discuss with the doctor the medications that they’re using, since the use of medications could create alterations on the ekg. A detailed medical history and use of medications is very important information for the cardiologist performing the study and interpreting the results. On some situation the cardiologist may recommend the patient stops taking some medications prior to the test.

It is also recommended not to smoke, eat, or drink, especially alcoholic beverages or those with caffeine or gas, 3 hours prior to the test.

The use of loose sportswear and comfortable shoes is also recommended for the test.

What to expect during a stress test?

During the test the patient may experience tiredness, a feeling of fatigue, palpitations or pain in the chest, if this is the case, you should tell your doctor immediately. Measuring blood pressure can cause a feeling of pressure in the arm. The patient will be able to resume regular daily activities as soon as the test is over.

Grupo Cardiovascular de Tijuana

Misión de San Diego 1527, Zona Urbana Rio Tijuana, 22010 Tijuana, B.C.

When is this test ordered

The stress test can be performed for two purposes: to obtain a diagnosis, or to assess the prognosis.

Thus, diagnostic stress testing may be indicated in the following situations:

  • In patients who have had chest pain or other suspicious symptoms of ischemic heart disease in the form of angina pectoris.
  • In patients without symptoms who present electrocardiographic alterations at rest suggesting ischemic heart disease.
  • In asymptomatic patients with cardiovascular risk factors for suffering from ischemic heart disease and when it is appropriate to safely rule out ischemic heart disease, such as silent angina.
  • For the study of certain arrhythmias.

In case of stress testing for prognostic purposes, possible indications include:

  • Assess the prognosis and the probability of recurrence of an ischemic event after the patient has already experienced a myocardial infarction.
  • To follow up on a patient with known ischemic heart disease.
  • To evaluate the efficacy of a treatment plan previously prescribed.
  • Evaluation of the blood pressure response to strenuous physical activity.
  • To assess the prognosis of some arrhythmias, cardiomyopathies or alterations in the heart valves or in congenital heart disease.

What are the risks?

Although rare, arrhythmias, changes in blood pressure, dizziness, severe angina pectoris or even a heart attack may occur during the test. It is rare that any of these complications can compromise the life of the patient. However, the specialized provider performing the test will respond accordingly and will take the preventive measures to prevent complications from developing or will indicate the study is suspended as soon as any complication appears, initiating the action of an emergency response team.

Expected results, normal values

Ideally this test should be completed free symptoms of ischemic heart disease such as chest pain, and a proper respond from the heart to the demands of the exercise, that is without the development of pathological arrhythmias or electrocardiographic alterations suggestive of ischemic heart disease.

What kind of abnormal results can be detected with this test?

Alterations presented during a stress test can serve to diagnose ischemic heart disease and may be indicative of the need of other tests such as cardiac catheterization or reevaluation of an established pharmacological treatment. In addition, it can reveal an arrhythmia that had not been identified, or have gone undetected during baseline ekg. In the case of using the stress test for the purpose of a prognosis, it can evaluate alterations of both ischemic heart disease, as well as arrhythmias. This implies the need for further specialized tests to reach a conclusive diagnosis.

Grupo Cardiovascular de Tijuana

Misión de San Diego 1527, Zona Urbana Rio Tijuana, 22010 Tijuana, B.C.
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