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How is a cardiac stress test done?

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Quick Answer

A cardiac stress test typically involves a person exercising on a treadmill or stationary bike at increasing rates of difficulty, according to WebMD. While on the exercise equipment, the person's heart rate, blood pressure and electrocardiogram are measured.

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There are a number of stress tests available, explains WebMD. The treadmill stress test is the most common and tests to ensure the patient is getting enough blood to the heart. A dobutamine or adenosine stress test is given to people who are unable to exercise. In this case, medication is given to an individual to make the heart act as if the person is exercising. The response is then measured the same way it is in a standard stress test.

A stress echocardiogram is another type of stress test that may be given to see the health of the heart, notes WebMD. It is used to see areas where a lack of blood flow may be occurring and provides a graphic output of how the heart is working. The nuclear stress test is also an option for some patients. In this test, the patient is given a small amount of radioactive dye and asked to exercise. The test shows whether or not all parts of a person's heart are functioning properly.

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