Love Your Heart: Stress testing
SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - If you have a family history of heart disease, your doctor may want to do testing to see if you have any problems with your heart. One way to test how well your heart handles its workload is a stress test.
Stress tests, give doctors a fairly accurate idea of what is happening with your heart. Stress tests will also allow doctors to know if you need further testing to determine what is happening with your heart.
"You walk on a treadmill, you're hooked up to an EKG machine and you're looking for changes that are suspicious for decreased blood flow to the heart muscle," said Dr. Paul Stafford, an interventional cardiologist with Willis-Knighton. "It's as simple as walking on a treadmill. Depending on the situation, we add nuclear images and do nuclear stress tests that require an IV and a couple of injections of a radioisotope. That will allow us to image the heart and be able to diagnose coronary disease or decreased blood flow to the heart muscle anyway, with an 85-90% assurity."
Screening patients is extremely valuable for doctors. Many recommend starting some sort of screening at a young age. If you have a history of heart disease in your family, you may be at a higher risk of getting it yourself.
"At age 20 you begin having your blood pressure checked at least every 2 years, glucose every 4 years, cholesterol every 4 years. And as you get older and as you develop more risk factors, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, if you smoke, and then that pattern changes and sometimes involves more screening tests," said Dr. Stafford.
The more risk factors you have, the more intense the screening process.
"If you're 50 years old and you smoke, or if you have a family history that's significant for heart disease. Those are important people to screen," said Dr. Stafford.
Stress tests will also allow doctors to know if you need further testing to determine what is happening with your heart.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. About 600,000 Americans die of the disease annually.
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