Your heart is one of the most important parts of your body, and heart disease is still among the deadliest conditions among Americans. Some form of cardiovascular disease makes up about 655,000 in the U.S. annually and affects people of every race and gender. Knowing how well your heart is doing is essential for knowing how to take care of it. When you go for your annual exam to check on your current health, the treadmill stress test will be an important way to check the condition of your heart. Let’s examine heart health, how the treadmill stress test can tell you and what you can expect from it.
Residents of the Beverly Hills, California area looking to check up on their cardiovascular condition can get help from Dr. Shawn Veiseh. We offer a variety of comprehensive medical services to monitor your health, including treadmill stress tests.
The basics of heart health
Your heart is literally one of the most important organs in your body, carrying oxygen, fuel, hormones, and other important chemicals throughout your body through your blood. Over your lifetime it will beat 2.5 billion times, and if it stops, essential functions of your body will also fail nearly instantly. One of the key factors that can contribute to heart problems is the formation of plaque, which is a cholesterol-rich particle that can accumulate in your arteries, blocking them and making it harder for important nutrients to travel throughout your body. This obstruction of plaque in your arteries is known as atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and it can lead to many other life-shortening heart conditions.
A combination of a diet filled with bad cholesterol and a lack of exercise can lead to this and many other heart problems. And to see how well your heart is doing, we use methods like the treadmill stress test.
What the treadmill test can tell you
A test you might take during a physical exam, this method is an effective way to see how well it works under physical activity. Physical activity works your body, which means your heart has to pump faster and harder to provide fuel for your actions. This test is able to monitor your blood flow as you exercise, in order to see if there are any problems with how your heart pumps blood to the rest of your body. This can be used to guide treatment decisions if you’re having heart problems, examine how well an existing treatment is doing, or diagnose how severe an existing heart condition is.
In addition to physical exams, if you’re being diagnosed with coronary artery disease, heart rhythm (arrhythmia) problems, or getting your heart checked before surgery, you will likely get a treadmill stress test.
What to expect during the test
You will be instructed to avoid eating, drinking caffeinated beverages, and smoking three hours before the test begins. You should wear loose, comfortable clothing and shoes you can run in.
As the test begins, you will be hooked up to an EKG machine with sticky pads placed under your clothing. Your heart rate and breathing will be tested before you start running. You will start walking slowly on the treadmill at first, and the speed and incline of the test will get faster as the test progresses. Once we have received all the results we need, the test will stop, though if you experience chest pains, weakness, or fatigue you may ask for it to stop sooner.
Once finished, you’ll be able to rest and hydrate. If your blood pressure rises during the test, we may continue monitoring your blood pressure. The full results of the test should be available in a few days, and if there is any evidence of heart disease, we will discuss the next course of action, and methods of treatment.
Taking care of your heart is a serious matter, and the treadmill test is an important way of determining how healthy your heart is. If you're dealing with chest pains, weakness, and other possible symptoms of heart disease, make an appointment with Dr. Veiseh today to get tested.