What To Expect During a Stress Test

Stress tests are common and are designed to learn how well your heart is pumping blood, whether your heart is receiving an adequate blood supply, how your physical activity compares to other that are similar age and sex, and if any symptoms like shortness of breath, chest pain, or dizziness can be reproduced during the procedure. A stress test takes 10 to 15 minutes, but with pre and post recovery needs you should plan to spend a few hours in the medical building. At NOVA Cardiovascular Care in Woodbridge & Stafford, VA our talented team of physicians and assistants is ready to answer any of your questions and want to make your stress test as easy as possible.

Types of Stress Tests

There are a myriad of methods for assessing your heart's health and function, including the below:

  • Exercise Stress Test: During this test, you'll walk on a treadmill or ride a stationary bike while an exercise physiologist adjusts the speed and elevation to your fitness level.
  • Exercise Stress Echocardiogram: Similar to an exercise stress test, this type of procedure involves a healthcare provider doing an echocardiogram of your heart before and during exercise. The resulting images show how well  your heart is functioning. 
  • Nuclear Stress Test: A more advanced test, this one involves using safe levels of a radioactive substance and imaging of your heart to determine overall function. Ultimately, this type of stress test is often used to determine if there is a blockage in one or more arteries.

If you are unable to exercise, you'll receive an IV fluid that stimulates your heart to pump faster and harder. 

What to Expect During a Stress Test

Prior to starting a stress test, a medical provider will check your vitals and then attach electrodes to your chest and arms that are then connected to an EKG machine. Once done, you'll walk on a treadmill or use a stationary bike at a pace that gets harder with time. Once your target heart rate is achieved, it will need to be sustained long enough to capture readings about your heart's health and function. If medical providers need to or you ask, the test can be ended early.

If you are at risk of congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure, heart valve disease, coronary artery disease, or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy then it is likely that a stress test will be ordered to detect early warning signs of these serious conditions. To schedule a stress test or learn more about our practice, give NOVA Cardiovascular Care in Woodbridge & Stafford, VA a call at either (703) 492-6822 (Woodbridge) or (540) 628-2173 (Stafford).

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