Stress Testing

An exercise stress test collects information about the way your heart works under the load of physical activity, revealing problems that may not be apparent at rest. Dr. Alberto Morales and the team at South Tampa Cardiology in Tampa, Florida, regularly use stress testing as a diagnostic and assessment tool to manage heart health.
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The test can be performed with EKG monitoring alone but is often performed with imaging (MRI, Nuclear, Echo) for improved diagnostic accuracy.

How Are Stress Tests Done?

Stress tests usually involve some form of exercise to elevate your heart rate, making it pump harder and faster.
Stationary bikes and treadmills are commonly used. Heart rhythm, blood pressure, and respiration are monitored throughout the testing. Exercise stress tests show your heart and vascular system’s response to exercise. Treatments may be based on the results of the stress test if the patient has a heart condition. If you cannot exercise, a Pharmacologic stress test (Dobutamine or regadenoson) can be performed instead.

The Primary Purpose
of This Test is To:

  • Determine your likelihood of having coronary artery disease
  • Evaluate for exercise-induced relaxation abnormalities
  • Evaluate for exercise-induced arrhythmias
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of your cardiac treatment plan
  • Evaluate the function of your heart valves
  • Help you develop a safe exercise program

Does A Stress Test Carry Any Risks?

As with many medical tests and procedures, there is some risk, but exercise stress tests are generally safe, with few complications.

Complications may include:

  • Low Blood Pressure: Experienced during or immediately after testing causing dizziness
  • Arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats): May emerge during the exercise stress test
  • Myocardial Infarction (heart attack): Generally a risk for those with advanced heart conditions

What Should I Expect From
an Exercise Stress Test?

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To prepare for an exercise stress test, bring comfortable, loose fitting clothing and typical walking shoes to wear during the test.

Dr. Morales will advise you about other preparations, which may include not eating, drinking, or smoking for 2 hours or longer before the test.

You may also be asked to avoid caffeine or some medications for 24 hours before the test, if they may influence results.

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During Testing

At the test, you may be asked about your usual level of exercise, so the test may be adjusted to an appropriate level.

The various monitoring devices, such as electrocardiogram electrodes and blood pressure cuff, are put in place. Depending on the test, a breathing tube may be used.

The test starts with low intensity, building to increase the heart rate to meet the test target or until contrary symptoms result.

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After the test, you may sit or lie down with monitors still attached to determine your heart’s recovery patterns.
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