While there are many diagnostic tests to identify heart problems, stress testing is the only one that evaluates how well your heart works while you exercise. Board-certified cardiac specialist Kintur Sanghvi, MD, FACC, FSCAI, at NJ Heart & Vascular Care in Princeton and Hamilton Square, New Jersey, performs stress tests in the comfort of the office, so you can get all your heart care in one location. To schedule an appointment, use online booking or call the office today.
Stress testing shows how your heart works when it’s under physical stress and forced to pump harder to get enough oxygenated blood to your body.
In most cases, your heart is made to beat faster by having you walk on a treadmill or pedal a stationary bike. However, you may also receive medication that boosts your heart rate.
Dr. Sanghvi of NJ Heart & Vascular Care may order a stress test to diagnose the cause of problems like shortness of breath, chest pain, and abnormal changes in your heart rate or blood pressure.
Stress testing is often done to diagnose coronary artery disease. If you’ve already been diagnosed with heart disease or you’ve had a heart attack, you may need a stress test to show whether you can start an exercise program.
Dr. Sanghvi may also order a stress test to evaluate how well treatment for a heart condition is working.
Before your stress test starts, Dr. Sanghvi attaches electrodes to your chest, arms, and legs, which he connects to an electrocardiogram (EKG) machine. This device records your heart’s electrical activity during your test.
You’ll also have a blood pressure cuff on your arm, which occasionally tightens during the test to record your blood pressure. As soon as the equipment is connected, you’ll exercise on a treadmill or stationary bike. At various times during the test, the exercise level increases.
You can stop or alert Dr. Sanghvi — who stays with you throughout the test — any time you feel the exercise is too much for you to manage. Otherwise, the test continues until you reach a target heart rate, you feel moderate-to-severe chest pain, or you’re too out of breath to continue.
The test only takes about 15 minutes, but with preparation before the test and time to monitor you afterward, the total time is about an hour for a standard stress test.
There are several types of stress tests, including:
Using echocardiography, ultrasound images of your heart are taken before and after you exercise.
During a nuclear stress test, a dye is injected and a special camera produces pictures of your heart before and after you exercise. The dye highlights the parts of your heart that are healthy and those that aren’t working properly.
Positron emission tomography (PET) similarly uses a radioactive drug to reveal internal areas of inflammation that arise during your stress test. Usually, PET scans are done while you’re at rest and in conjunction with a CT scan or MRI.
To schedule stress testing, call NJ Heart & Vascular Care or book an appointment online today.