ZocdocAnswersHow often do I need a stress test?

Question

How often do I need a stress test?

I have a strong family history of heart disease and my doctor thinks it?s time to have a stress test. Is this something that I?ll need to do only once, or do I have to repeat the test every year?

Answer

The typical symptoms that would prompt me to order a simple exercise stress test would include chest pains that come on with exertions, shortness of breath with exertion that seems to be new or worsening, or another symptom that I think is due to coronary artery disease. For the a treadmill stress test to be useful, there must have a reasonable chance that its going to be positive. Otherwise the chances are the test will not provide useful information. Thus, a stress test is something done obtain more information about a symptom, not something done once or every year. I suggest you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. When someone has a family history of heart disease, its really important to identify any risk factors they have for developing atherosclerosis and other heart related problems. This means your doctor should check cholesterol levels, test for diabetes, make sure you are at a healthy weight, and check your blood pressure. In the absence of symptoms, making sure these things are in check is the most important thing you can do.

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