Stress tests: what they are, what they are for, duration and recommendations
Many times, if we have any kind of physical ailment, it is possible that the doctor recommends us to do the so-called exercise test . A test that will measure how our heart works when we make a concrete effort and that we explain in detail below.
What is a stress test?
Many are mostly older people who often complain of fatigue or pain in the chest area. For this type of situation and in the case of having to evaluate a patient after suffering an angina pectoris and what is its resistance, the stress test is also done, also called ergometry.
This is a test that involves a physical effort to evaluate the behavior of the cardio system -circulatory during fatigue. In particular, it serves to measure whether electrocardiographic signs or suggestive or painful symptoms that would reveal the obstruction of the coronary arteries , namely, the arteries supplying the heart, increase in heart rate and blood pressure under stress. the heart muscle with blood and oxygen.
How long is an exercise test?
Stress tests study physiological adaptation of the organism before an increase of the external muscular load and contribute to diagnose the dysneic patient and to assess the degree of disability or the response to the treatment.
The response to the effort can be made to through complex ergometric protocols or through walking tests or also by bicycle .
S u duration is variable, the goal is to reach a certain heart rate that is dependent on age as well as being dependent on the degree of training, the behavior of the pressure, the appearance of any symptom or abnormal sign on the electrocardiogram that suggests stopping the test. On average, the trained people can run or pedal even for 10-15 minutes, the least trained people stop first. A total time of 45-60 minutes must be calculated by calculating the time required for the preparation and the time required to rest and wait for the response.
To perform the stress test, the patient is usually connected to the machine or walking belt using electrodes , which are applied to the chest and back to record the electrocardiogram. and a sleeve for pressure detection is also placed on the arm.There may also be i physical conditions (difficulty in running or pedaling, severe arthritis, leg arteriopathy) or psychological impairments.
Risks of the Stress test
Once the contraindications are excluded, the patient is informed about exactly what the test consists of and must sign the informed consent for its execution. The consent does not eliminate any responsibility for the doctor, but shows that the patient has been fully informed about the reasons for the execution of the stress test, about the risks, about the solution of possible complications.
risks involved are the possible appearance of anginal pain, signs of coronary ischemia, arrhythmias, or excessive pressure increase . In fact, they are just what you are looking for, so it will not be a coincidence that the exercise test is "a provocation test". In general, the symptoms that are usually felt are transient and do not usually end up interrupting the effort. However, the exam should be performed by experienced doctors equipped with the right tools to deal with complications (medications, oxygen, defibrillator). Serious and/or insoluble complications are very rare, the important thing is to evaluate the absolute and relative a priori contraindications well.
Alternatives to the stress test
The study of the coronary arteries and the heart with coronary ischemia can make use of other tests, such as echocardiography , especially if it is carried out with drugs that cause the increase of the frequency (stress echo), or the tomography of the coronary arteries, as well as the coronary angiography , which is, unlike the other, an "invasive" examination , which provides a brief hospitalization and the introduction of catheters in the heart and the administration of the contrast medium. Each of the aforementioned exams has advantages and limitations, the attending cardiologist is the most appropriate person to direct the individual patient towards one method or another according to the individual clinical variables.
The results of a stress test
The response or results of the stress test contain detailed information on the duration of the exercise, the frequency and the maximum pressure reached, marking any abnormality in the electrocardiogram that is collected, as well as information about the capacity and tolerance to the effort made, the moment of the frequency recovery and the pressure compared with the values measured before the test, by Finally, the results will be added to the diagnosis of the doctor who requested the stress test.
The fact of doing a stress test on any patient will not indicate, however, a result that is decisive or definitive.
In this way, it is not a test that can be used to tell if the patient is healthy or sick and, if ill, how much and at what points. As with all diagnostic tests, doubts can still be found, and so-called false negatives (normal examination but diseased coronary arteries) or false positives (deteriorated but healthy coronary examination) can occur. The experience and good sense of the doctor can direct the patient towards more tests to reach the "diagnostic certainty" and then implement the best possible therapy on a case by case basis.
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