Not all heart problems are diagnosable when the heart is at rest, so sometimes you may need to undergo a monitored exercise session called a stress test. Henock Saint-Jacques, MD, FACC, is a highly experienced heart specialist at Harlem Cardiology on Madison Avenue in New York City who uses different forms of stress testing to get to the root cause of elusive heart symptoms. Call the East Harlem office or request an appointment online to schedule a consultation with Dr. Saint-Jacques today.
A stress test, or exercise stress test as it’s also known, is a way of measuring how well blood flows through your heart. Exercise raises your heart rate and makes it pump harder, which can reveal problems that may not be visible at rest.
A stress test uses an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) machine to record your heart’s electrical activity as you exercise.
Dr. Saint-Jacques may recommend a stress test to help in the diagnosis of conditions such as coronary artery disease (CAD) and heart arrhythmias.
He may also use a stress test to monitor your progress if you’re undergoing treatment for a heart condition. Assessing how much exercise your heart can manage enables him to adjust your rehabilitation program to optimize the time and intensity of your training.
Stress tests can also be useful when assessing the need for advanced treatments such as a heart transplant, or for determining the best time to carry out cardiac surgery.
The team at Harlem Cardiology on Madison Avenue prepares you before your stress test by giving you any special instructions, like if you should stop eating, drinking, or smoking, and if so for how long, as well as if you should take your prescription medication beforehand.
An exercise stress test may involve walking on a treadmill or riding an exercise bike. If you can’t exercise for medical reasons, Dr. Saint-Jacques can use an intravenous drug that increases blood flow to your heart to replicate the effect of exercise.
At first, you go slowly on the treadmill or bike, then gradually the exercise gets more strenuous. Once your heart reaches the target Dr. Saint-Jacques has set, or you’re experiencing symptoms that make it impossible to continue, you can stop. After the test, you need to remain still for a couple of seconds, then lay down with the EKG electrodes in place so they continue to monitor your heart as it returns to its resting state.
In certain cases, you may need to undergo a nuclear stress test, which involves the use of a radioactive dye that the imaging technology picks out to highlight damage and substandard blood flow in your heart. Dr. Saint-Jacques may recommend stress echocardiography as well, which uses ultrasound technology to record how well your heart’s functioning.
If you’re experiencing any symptoms that could point to a heart problem, call Harlem Cardiology on Madison Avenue or book an appointment online today.