Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"What is an exercise stress test good for?"
Will it measure how healthy I am? I don't understand why it's necessary for me.
An exercise stress test is used to help determine if symptoms experienced by an individual may be related to the function of the heart. The test is not a recommended screening procedure to be given to all individuals to determine one's overall health. It is best used when the pre-test probability of heart disease is intermediate (i.e., the person's symptoms, such as chest pain, have a medium likelihood of coming from the heart). If the stress test is positive, then further testing of the heart may be needed. If it is negative, then other causes of the symptoms may be explored. The basic exercise stress test involves running on a treadmill while hooked up to an EKG monitor that tracks the electrical activity of the heart. If the heart is under stress from a lack of oxygen due to coronary artery disease, then certain changes may be seen on the EKG. If someone has a history of coronary artery disease or an abnormal EKG to start with, then a concurrent imaging test is usually required to detect the abnormalities in oxygen delivery to different parts of the heart. Please discuss your stress test with your primary care physician for more information.
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