Wondering if a heart specialist can treat your health condition? Heart specialists are also called cardiologists. These highly trained medical professionals focus on diagnosing and treating problems related to the heart and blood vessels.Thinking about seeing a heart specialist to address your particular health condition? Even though a primary care physician is often the type…
What Does a Cardiac Stress Test Look For?
A cardiac stress test helps in the detection of coronary artery disease. CAD is a heart condition that is most likely to affect middle-aged men. It is caused by fatty deposits building up in the coronary artery, hindering the proper flow of blood. A cardiac stress test is not a 100% accurate way to diagnose CAD, but it is a helpful tool that often points cardiologists in the right direction.
What to expect when getting a cardiac stress test
A cardiac stress test typically involves the patient walking on a treadmill as the pace is gradually increased. The doctor uses an electrogram to monitor the patient’s heart rhythms as the exercise intensifies. The patient’s blood pressure and issues like discomfort building up in the chest and fatigue are also recorded.
Other types of stress testing include chemical testing, which involves using special medications to mimic high blood flow to the heart, and nuclear stress testing, which uses radioactive dye and imaging tests to observe blood flow. Chemical stress testing is typically recommended when the patient is not healthy enough for exercise.
Any abnormalities detected in the patient’s heart rate or blood pressure could be a sign of CAD. The chances that the patient has CAD go higher if they have already complained about symptoms like unexplainable shortness of breath or chest pain.
A stress test that does not detect any abnormalities does not mean there is no chance that the patient has CAD. Stress testing is most effective at detecting arteries that have already been severely compromised. However, people with a moderately blocked coronary artery are still susceptible to ruptures and blockages that can cause heart attacks.
Stress tests are often combined with other tests to paint a clear picture of the patient’s blood circulation. Cardiologists typically recommend getting one when a patient complains of symptoms of CAD.
If the stress test shows limited blood flow to the patient’s heart, catheterization might be used to confirm the diagnosis. Once CAD has been confirmed, procedures like cardiac bypass surgery can be used to reestablish proper blood flow.
Interpreting the results of a stress test
Normal results from a stress test mean the patient has less than 70% artery blockage. Further testing might be recommended if the patient has risk factors for CAD. An abnormal result means the patient has more than 70% blockage in their coronary artery. Further testing is required to confirm the diagnosis.
Figuring out if you need a stress test
It is typically up to a cardiologist to determine if a patient needs a stress test. The American College of Cardiology advises doctors to avoid performing the procedure routinely because it can lead to false flags. Symptoms and risk factors of CAD, like age, genetics, and medical history, are evaluated individually to determine if a stress test is needed.
Our cardiologist is here to help
Do you often find yourself feeling out of breath for no reason? It might be a sign of poor blood flow to your heart. Give us a call or visit our Boynton Beach clinic to set up an appointment with our cardiologist.
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