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An Exercise Stress Test Without the Exercise

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If you need an exercise stress test, but cannot exercise because of your age or a medical problem, you still have options.  Johns Hopkins explains.

If your doctor is concerned that you have a heart problem -- such as coronary artery disease -- you may need to take an exercise stress test. An exercise stress test gets your heart pumping more vigorously, which may make problems with blood flow to the heart muscle easier to observe.

During a, exercise stress test, people commonly get their hearts beating faster by using a treadmill or riding a stationary bike. However, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, almost half of Americans who need an exercise stress test can't do so due to their age or orthopedic problems. If a medical condition interferes with your ability to exercise, the doctor can instead give you a medication that makes your heart work harder.

A pharmacological stress test. In a pharmacological stress test, a medication such as dobutamine is given as an injection into a vein. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the treatment may cause you to feel flushed and anxious. The testing itself will last about 15 minutes, and the extra workload on your heart may cause you to have chest pain, shortness of breath or irregular heartbeats.

According to the NIH, serious harm from stress testing is rare. Irregular heartbeats, faintness and discomfort related to the medicine all usually go away quickly. 

Posted in Heart Health on December 7, 2012


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