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What Is a Stress Test and Should I Have One?

A healthy, adult heart beats between 86,000 and 144,000 times a day, caused by the expansion and contraction of your arteries to promote the circulation of oxygen and blood throughout your body.

If you notice any odd symptoms, such as fatigue or lightheadedness, you should consider having a stress test to find out if your heart rate is too slow or too fast. Even if you don’t have symptoms, a stress test can help you understand more about the condition of your heart. 

At Cardiovascular Institute of America in Tampa and Lutz, Florida, Dr. Muthu Velusamy and our team provide nuclear cardiology/stress tests to look at the functionality of your heart and its condition. We can also get to the root cause of your symptoms if you have any. We want to keep your heart and arteries functioning at their peak performance.

The purpose of a stress test

A stress test helps our team understand the strength of your heart. Its purpose is to make your body use more oxygen through monitored exercise to get your heart pumping more blood. 

The test shows us how your arteries take blood to your heart, allowing us to diagnose any issues with your heart, blood flow, and blood supply.

Even if you don’t have any symptoms of concern, a stress test can catch heart or artery problems early, which can help prevent more serious issues in the future.

Who should get a stress test

You should get a stress test if you want to have the condition of your heart and arteries evaluated.

Reasons to consider getting a stress test include:

Dr. Velusamy evaluates your test results once they’re in. He then works together with you on a treatment plan to benefit your heart health.

How a stress test works

At Cardiovascular Institute of America, we offer a stress test and a nuclear cardiology/stress test, which take place in two phases at your appointment. They can also vary in which one you receive first if having both.

Before your test begins, we put an intravenous line (IV) in your arm. We administer adenosine through your IV to open up your arteries as you exercise to increase your blood flow. We also use an isotope, which is a radioactive material or nuclear imaging that takes pictures of your heart.

For your nuclear stress test, you remain still on a table as the camera takes pictures of your heart for about 20 minutes. This test allows us to get a more in-depth look at your heart muscle and blood supply.

Then we hook you up to an (electrocardiogram) (EKG) machine to monitor your heart rate for the exercise portion of the stress test. We also put a blood pressure cuff around your arm, attached to electrodes that go on your legs and chest. 

We evaluate your heart rate as your movement increases, which may be on a stationary bike or a treadmill. We maintain constant communication with you during the test, so you can let us know if you feel any discomfort, pain, or anything of concern.

Images from both tests allow our team to compare them and identify any problems. After your appointment, you’re free to get back to your normal, daily routine.

How to prepare

Before you come in for your test, prepare by refraining from:

Be sure to eat a light breakfast the day of your test, and wear comfortable clothes. 

If you’re a diabetic, we have specific instructions for you to follow that we give you days before your stress test. We also consult with you about your medications to make sure they don’t interfere with your test.

To schedule a stress test for your heart health, contact Dr. Velusamy and our team today. Call or book your appointment online. You can also send us a message before you come in if you have any questions.

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