Heart-related problems are not always the easiest to diagnose. Symptoms that point to cardiac distress may seem completely unrelated. Symptoms such as nausea, indigestion, lightheadedness, fatigue, snoring, sweating, a persistent cough, irregular heartbeat, and/or swollen legs, feet, and ankles are all signs that something might be wrong with your heart. Don’t ignore the warning signs. Uncertainty about your heart health can be resolved with a cardiac stress test at Taylor Internal Medicine.

What is a Stress Test and What Can it Tell Me?

A cardiac stress test is recommended for patients who are experiencing symptoms that could indicate heart-related problems and to those who have recently had a heart attack. A stress test gathers information on how well your heart works during physical activity. The test will be performed while you are exercising on a treadmill or stationary bike with the use of an EKG (electrocardiogram) monitor and track changes in the electrical activity of your heart. The results of this test can help your doctor determine if a cardiac problem such as coronary artery disease needs to be addressed.

What to Expect at Your Appointment

A cardiac stress test is conducted with the intent of getting your heart to work a little harder than a resting state. No to worry, just because there is a treadmill involved, doesn’t mean you’ll be getting a run in at your doctor’s office! It is important to remember that you can stop the test at any time if you feel any pain or discomfort and that your doctor will be present and monitoring your condition the entire time.

Before the test begins, your vital signs will be taken and you’ll be hooked up to EKG equipment to monitor the electrical activity of your heart. Your doctor will obtain a god baseline before the test begins.

Next, you’ll begin slowly walking on the treadmill. The speed will slowly be increased and the incline will be raised slightly, to create the effect of walking up a small hill.

You may be asked to breathe into a tube for a minute or two.

At the end of the test, you will be able to sit or lie down to rest and relax while your vital signs are taken again.

The cardiac stress test will reveal arrhythmias — irregular heart rhythms — heart blocks, and can indicate problems with cardiac blood flow. Depending on the results of the test, you may be referred for follow-up diagnostic testing or treatment.

How to Prepare for a Cardiac Stress Test

Before your appointment, your provider will discuss any specific test requirements, such as skipping your medications — do NOT skip taking your medications unless directed by your doctor! Some general cardiac stress test preparation tips include:

  • Do not exercise the day of your appointment
  • Don’t eat or drink anything except water for 4 hours before the test
  • Do not have caffeine within 12 hours of the test
  • If you use an inhaler, bring it with you
  • Ensure your blood sugar is under control and at a safe level when arriving at your appointment
  • Wear shoes and clothes that are comfortable to walk a short distance in

Before your appointment, the team at Taylor Internal Medicine will discuss the specifics with you and answer all of your questions. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for any heart-related concerns you may have.