There are three different types of cardiac stress testing performed at Dickinson Memorial Hospital.
Treadmill Stress Test: The treadmill stress test is performed to assess the overall fitness of your heart during exercise. You walk on a treadmill while being monitored to see how far you walk and if you develop chest pain or changes in your EKG.
The duration of exercise is determined by your age, fitness level and symptoms. You will be asked not to eat or drink for four hours prior to your stress test and to not take medications the morning of the test unless your physician tells you otherwise. The procedure takes approximately 45-60 minutes, which includes set-up, exercise and resting phase.
Nuclear Stress Test: This procedure is the same as the treadmill stress test except nuclear imaging is used to assess circulation to the heart. This test helps to determine which parts of the heart are healthy and function normally and which are not. While exercising, a harmless radioactive material is injected through an IV. Your heart will be imaged by a Nuclear Medicine camera that allows the interpreting physician to assess your heart’s circulation. You will then be asked to return on a second day, either prior to the day of the stress test or after, for what is called “resting” images. On this day, a second injection is given without the exercise being performed. This allows the physician to assess the circulation of the heart at rest in comparison to during exercise, facilitating a more accurate diagnosis.
Allow approximately 2 hours for the day of the exercise portion of the test and about 1 hour for the day of the resting images. You will be asked not to eat or drink for four hours prior to your stress test and to not take medications the morning of the test unless your physician tells you otherwise.
Pharmacological Stress Test: This test is used if you are unable to exercise. A drug is given to make your heart respond as if you were exercising. This way the doctor can still determine how your heart responds to stress, but no exercise is required. Imaging is then performed just as in a Nuclear Stress Test or in some cases an echocardiogram is used.
You will be asked not to eat or drink for four hours prior to your stress test and to not take medications the morning of the test unless your physician tells you otherwise.