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Can Stress Test Predict a Heart Attack?

By    |   Thursday, 14 Jul 2016 06:40 PM

Certain stress tests don’t necessarily predict a heart attack, but they may show risk for a heart attack in the future. The tests also are often used to detect possible heart disease.

Stress tests determine how much a patient’s heart can handle before developing abnormal rhythms or there are signs of inadequate blood flow to the heart. An exercise stress test, the most common stress test used, examines exertion on the heart, according to WebMD.

ALERT: 5 Signs Your Heart Is In Trouble

In an exercise stress test, patients walk on a treadmill or pedal a stationary bike to gradually make the heart work harder. The doctor checks for chest discomfort or fatigue by measuring blood pressure, heart rate, and heart rhythms with an electrocardiogram. Worsening symptoms or abnormal results could suggest heart disease or fatty deposits in the blood that interfere with blood flow to the heart.

Normal results indicate there is no blockage in the arteries to cause heart disease.

However, people could still have a heart attack from smaller blockages, so doctors might order other tests for people with risk factors for heart disease, Harvard Medical School notes. Abnormal results warn of possible heart disease, but the test could be a false alarm and doctors may order other tests to confirm the findings.

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Imaging stress tests involve taking pictures of the patient’s heart while exercising and at rest, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The tests focus on blood flow and heartbeats.

An imaging stress test is considered a better evaluation for signs of heart disease and “can predict the risk of a future heart attack or premature death,” the institute points out.

Imaging stress tests may include sound waves that create images to study the heart’s chambers and valves while under stress. Other tests use radioactive dye injected into the bloodstream to take pictures of various parts of the heart while exercising and at rest.

Standard exercise stress tests are usually performed first, but imaging stress tests are done first for people with health conditions that don’t allow them to exercise enough. People who already have abnormal heartbeats or have had a heart procedure in the past are also given an imaging stress test to check for heart disease and heart attack risks.

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Certain stress tests don't necessarily predict a heart attack, but they may show risk for a heart attack in the future. The tests also are often used to detect possible heart disease.
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Thursday, 14 Jul 2016 06:40 PM
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