If your electrocardiogram test reveals heart abnormalities, your physician may recommend stress testing, either alone, or in conjunction with echocardiography, an ultrasound of the heart. Before your stress test, the technician will place electrodes on your body that are attached to a cardiac monitor. After the electrodes have been secured, you will begin to walk on a special treadmill. If you are able to tolerate walking slowly on the treadmill, the technician will increase the speed of the treadmill and raise the incline. The purpose of stress testing is to determine how well your cardiovascular system functions during exercise. During your test, the technician, nurse, or physician will monitor you for the following signs and symptoms.
Because you will be hooked up to a cardiac monitor, your heart function can be easily assessed while you are on the treadmill. You will be monitored for abnormal heart rates such as tachycardia and bradycardia, which refers to an overly rapid heart rate and a too slow heart rate, respectively.
In addition to the rate of your heartbeat, you will also be monitored for any abnormal rhythms, also known as arrhythmias. These abnormal rhythms may include atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, premature ventricular contractions, or PVCs. It is important to note, that while PVCs can indicate a heart problem, they are often benign findings that can occur from caffeine consumption, certain medications, and anxiety.
You will also be monitored for any abnormal signs and symptoms while undergoing your cardiac stress testing. These may include diaphoresis, also called excessive sweating, chest pain, left arm pain, pallor, and cyanosis, which is when the skin turns blue as a result of poor oxygenation. When cyanosis develops around the mouth, it is called circumoral cyanosis.
Other symptoms that people may experience during stress testing may include leg pain, dizziness, shortness of breath, palpitations, and nausea. It is important to note that if the monitor reveals abnormal cardiac activity or if you experience any of the aforementioned signs or symptoms, the stress test will be stopped. After you get off the treadmill, you will be examined by the cardiologist who will determine if you will need additional testing or treatment.
If you are scheduled for a stress test, discuss your questions and concerns with your cardiologist. When you are a well-informed patient, you will know what to expect during your procedure so that you can avoid any unexpected outcomes.
For more information, contact an office such as Alpert Zales & Castro Pediatric Cardiology.