When a person begins having symptoms such as irregular heartbeat, chest pains, and shortness of breath, it can be a sign of heart disease. A stress test can be given to determine if the patient may have heart disease or if there is another abnormality of the heart causing the symptoms to occur. These are the 3 different types of stress tests that are commonly used to diagnose heart conditions.
Nuclear Stress Test
In this test, the patient is given a medication by injection that makes the heart respond as if the patient was exercising. An echocardiogram machine may be used to view how the heart behaves once the drug has been administered. This test is normally used for those people who are unable to perform an exercise test due to other existing health conditions. The doctor can see how the heart behaves under physical exertion without the patient having to be physically active.
Cardiac Treadmill Test
The cardiac treadmill test is just as it sounds. The patient will be walking on a treadmill at various speeds for specific amounts of time while being connected to a 12 lead ECG stress machine that monitors and measures the heart's activity. The patient's heart rate and blood pressure are also monitored during the test to ensure that neither reaches a dangerous level while the patient is active. The readings of the stress machine help determine if the patient may have a heart condition.
Stress ECHO Test
This test is very similar to the cardiac treadmill test in that the patient will be walking on a treadmill, connected by wires to a stress machine and the blood pressure and heart rate will also be monitored. However, the patient will walk on the treadmill for a short period of time and then stop and lay down on a hospital bed to rest. While the patient is resting, pictures and videos of the heart will be taken using an echocardiogram. These pictures and videos show the doctor how well the heart can recover when going from an active state to a resting state. This test helps diagnose coronary artery disease and other heart problems that may not be as visibly obvious when the patient is only in a resting state.
It is very important to see a physician as soon as the symptoms of heart disease begin. In most cases, if a stress test can be done quickly so a diagnosis can be made early, the heart condition can often be treated with medications and lifestyle changes. For more information about stress testing for heart conditions, contact a local physician.