What to Expect From a Stress Test?

Stress tests show how your heart functions during physical activity. A stress test involves walking on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike, during which time your heart rhythm, blood pressure, and breathing are monitored. Along with diagnosing heart conditions, a stress test is often performed on patients already receiving treatment to determine how well your treatment is working.

At Louisiana Heart and Vascular Institute, our team of specialists led by Farhad Aduli, MD., works closely with patients across the Northshore (Covington, Mandeville, and Slidell) to ensure safety during the test. After evaluating your test results, Dr. Adiuli will discuss the results and suggested a course of treatment, if necessary, at a follow-up appointment.

At Louisiana Heart and Vascular, we perform two types of stress tests, an exercise stress test, and a nuclear stress test. 

Preparing for your stress test

You will need to avoid caffeine the day before your stress test. In some cases, you may also be asked to stop eating, drinking, smoking, or taking certain medications, especially if you’re undergoing a nuclear stress test.

If you use an inhaler for asthma or other breathing problems, make sure to bring it to your appointment and let us know you have one. Lastly, you’ll want to wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes. 

What to expect during an exercise stress test

We start by listening to your heart and lungs. Next, a blood pressure cuff is placed around your arm, and about a dozen sticky patches are affixed to your chest and abdomen. Sometimes, we need to shave small areas of hair before applying the patches.

The patches contain electrodes with wires that run from your body to the electrocardiogram (EKG) machine. This enables continuous monitoring of your heartbeat as you exercise. Your blood pressure is also checked every few minutes during the test. 

To start, a baseline blood pressure and EKG reading are recorded while you’re still resting. Next, you will start exercising on the treadmill or bike, slowly at first.  Then at regular intervals, the intensity of your exercise is increased by accelerating the treadmill’s speed.

Your test continues until you reach your maximum predicted heart rate, become too tired or out of breath to continue, or other symptoms develop.

If you develop chest or leg pain while exercising, the test is halted, and any problematic changes in your EKG or blood pressure are noted.

Otherwise, we finish your exercise stress test by decreasing the speed so you can walk slowly and cool down for a few minutes.

Typically, the exercise portion of a stress test takes about 15 minutes. However, plan on an hour for your entire office visit. 

You’re always supervised during a stress test

You’re never left alone during your stress test. Our experienced medical staff is fully prepared to handle any symptoms or problems that may arise. 

What to expect during a nuclear stress test

First, we inject a safe radioactive dye through an IV line in your arm during a nuclear stress test. The dye highlights the blood flowing through your heart. Once the dye is injected, a camera is used to capture images of your heart. Images are collected before and after your exercise stress test.

Comparing these images enables us to see the specific areas of your heart that aren’t working correctly, are damaged or are not receiving adequate blood.  

If you have any questions about stress tests or need to schedule an appointment at Louisiana Heart and Vascular, call our office at 985-213-5713, or request an appointment via the online booking tool.

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