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Stress Testing - Preventing Cardiovascular Disease

Here is a look at the importance of preventing any type of cardiovascular disease:
  • 64,400,000 Americans have one or more forms of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
  • CVD claimed 931,108 lives in 2001 (38.5 percent of all deaths).
  • Other 2001 mortality: total cancer 553,768; accidents 101,537; HIV 14,175.
  • Almost 149,000 Americans killed by CVD are under age 65.
  • From 1991 to 2001, death rates from CVD declined 9.2 percent.
  • Despite this decline in the death rate, in the same 10-year period the actual number of deaths increased 0.9 percent.
  • This year an estimated 1.2 million Americans will have a new or recurrent coronary attack.
  • About 340,000 people a year die of coronary attack in an Emergency Department or without being hospitalized.

It is very important to have a physical done at least once a year to help prevent cardiovascular disease. It is the number one killer of Americans every year, and it continues to grow as diseases such as obesity continue to rise. With Stress Testing physicians and patients can work together to help prevent cardiovascular disease.

What Is Exercise Stress Testing?

Stress testing is an evaluation of the patientís cardiovascular system using an ECG, treadmill and blood pressure unit. The purpose is to screen patients for heart disease and help predict, or unmask, potential coronary problems. The exercise stress test is used to check for problems that show up only when the heart is working hard, and normally wouldnít be seen during a routine ECG.

How Is Exercise Stress Testing Done?

  • The patient is prepped and stress electrodes, which are more robust than regular ECG electrodes and are designed to stay on during the test, are applied to the patientís chest.
  • A baseline ECG and blood pressure are taken.
  • The exercise protocol is started. There are numerous protocols that gradually increase the speed and elevation of the treadmill.
  • During exercise the physician will monitor the patientís ECG, heart rate, blood pressure and physical symptoms.
  • When the test ends, an ECG and blood pressure measurement should be done for documentation of the heart at maximum effort or sub-maximum effort.
  • It is important to continue monitoring the patientís ECG, heart rate and blood pressure during recovery because some problems are uncovered in that phase.
  • It is important during testing and recovery to have a defibrillator and emergency cardiac drugs available.

Indications for Stress Testing:

  • Screen for latent coronary disease
  • Exercise prescription
  • Symptomatic individual
  • Evaluate arrhythmias
  • Evaluate therapy patients
  • Follow up on patients with known coronary artery disease for progression
  • Patients with multiple risk factors

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