What Does an Abnormal Result on a Stress Test Mean?

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Abnormal results on a stress test may indicate abnormal heart rhythms during exercise or a potential blockage in the arteries that can lead to coronary artery disease, according to MedlinePlus. An abnormal stress test typically results in a physician ordering additional medical tests to check the heart’s functions.

A stress test is often performed when a patient is experiencing chest pains and a physician wants to check for narrowing of the arteries, according to MedlinePlus. An individual who has had a heart attack, angioplasty or heart bypass surgery typically undergoes routine stress tests to check the progress of the heart. Patients with evident risk factors, such as heart disease and diabetes, often undergo stress tests before starting an exercise program.

Stress tests help physicians look for heart rhythm changes or detect heart valve problems, according to MedlinePlus. When stress test results are abnormal or show irregular heart rhythms, patients are often required to undergo a nuclear stress test, cardiac catheterization or stress echocardiography to determine the cause of the changes in the heart or identify blockage in the arteries. Stress test results are determined by the readings during light exercise, a person’s age and history of medical or heart problems.