An exercise stress test is commonly used to diagnose coronary artery disease (CAD), the most common form of heart disease. When this test is performed, your doctor can tell more about how well your heart works under elevated demand and whether you may have a significant blockage of one or both of your coronary arteries.
Rely on the expertise of cardiovascular specialist Nader Chadda, MD, and the team at Advanced Heart & Vascular Associates for a full range of heart and vascular care services. You may need a stress test if you have symptoms of heart disease or are at a higher than average risk. Let’s explore how we use the exercise stress test to check your heart health at our offices in Land O’ Lakes, Brooksville, and Hudson, Florida..
What is coronary artery disease?
Coronary arteries are special blood vessels that supply blood to the heart. If you have CAD, one or both of your main coronary arteries is narrowed or blocked. A buildup of cholesterol and fatty deposits inside the arteries is the most common cause of CAD.
If you have CAD, it’s crucial to work closely with a cardiovascular specialist to improve your heart health and lower the risk of dying from heart disease.
Who is at risk for coronary artery disease?
High cholesterol and high blood pressure are key risk factors for heart disease. Managing these risk factors is the foundation of lowering heart disease risk. The main lifestyle habits that contribute to the development of coronary artery disease include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Eating an unhealthy diet
- Not exercising
- Having diabetes
- Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol
While heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States, the risk can largely be mitigated. You can take steps to make changes that will lower your risk of heart disease.
Exercise stress test basics
During the exercise stress test, you will wear small electrodes connected to wires that send information to a machine that records the electrical activity of your heart. Dr. Chadda watches a monitor to view your heartbeat while you exercise.
Additionally, a blood pressure cuff records your blood pressure and pulse as you exercise. During the test you will walk on a treadmill or ride a stationary bike. The difficulty will increase gradually at two or three-minute intervals. This increased demand for blood causes your heart to work harder.
Your provider looks for changes in blood pressure and electrical activity of the heart. Certain changes will tell your doctor if your heart is getting enough blood. Symptoms such as chest pain and unusual shortness of breath are other indicators your provider looks out for when evaluating how well your heart functions during increased demand.
Determining your risk of heart disease
It’s important to know what the exercise stress test can and cannot tell you. Abnormalities in blood pressure, heart rate, or electrical activity, and symptoms such as chest pain or unusual fatigue could point to coronary artery disease.
We use the exercise stress test along with other diagnostic tools to diagnose CAD. The exercise stress test is never used by itself to rule out or diagnose CAD absolutely. A stress test helps to detect a significant narrowing of the coronary arteries of 70% of more.
A normal stress test doesn’t rule out CAD. It is possible to have less severe narrowing, and we know that heart attacks can occur from lesser blockages.
The top-quality cardiology team at Advanced Heart and Vascular Associates is here to help you keep your heart healthy and strong. Our team offers a full range of cardiovascular care. Call our office today to schedule an appointment, or book one online. We offer telehealth and in-person visits.