Stress tests are used to determine the amount of physical activity your heart can safely handle before developing an irregular heartbeat or loss of blood flow. There are several different kinds of stress tests performed by medical professionals that can be used to detect evidence of coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, and cardiac arrhythmias:
Chemically induced, Dobutamine , Adenosine or Lexiscan Test
Some patients are unable to endure a level of physical activity needed to get the test results. In these instances, patients are given a medication that has a similar effect on the heart as that of exercise. This allows the cardiologist to safely assess the heart’s response to stress, and no physical activity is required. During this test, you will feel you heart rate increasing.
Treadmill or Exercise Stress Test
This test involves walking on a treadmill at increasing rates, while your EKG, heart rate and blood pressure are measured, This test helps evaluate the function of your heart and valves and may help determine your likelihood for having coronary artery disease.
Nuclear Stress Test
A very small amount of radioactive substance or tracer is injected into the patient. A special camera that detects the rays produced by the tracer creates detailed picture of the heart tissue. These images identify areas of the heart that have decreased blood flow. A nuclear stress test may be prescribed in addition to a treadmill stress test.
Stress Echocardiogram (Stress Echo)
An echocardiogram, or echo, is an ultrasound image of the heart that details its structure-its size, shape the motion of the valves and the blood flow. An echocardiogram involves a device called a transducer, which is placed on the chest. The transducer transmits high frequency sound waves that are measure and captured by a special camera that produces detailed images of the heart. This test involves walking on a treadmill for several turns; in between these periods, the stress echo images are taken. It is a painless test that takes between 15-30 minutes and helps diagnose coronary heart disease, heart valve disorders and enlargement or thickening of the heart muscle.
A stress echocardiogram is useful in determining whether your heart muscle has sufficient blood flow and oxygen when it is under stress. If you have chest pain or recently had a heart attack, your doctor may order a stress echocardiogram. The results of the test can help your doctor determine how well your heart pumps and if there is sign of coronary artery disease.