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Cardiac Stress Testing

Cardiac Stress Testing at RH

Rumford Hospital has a Cardiac Diagnostics lab for cardiac stress testing. A cardiac stress test measures how the heart performs in response to exercise or stress. The test monitors blood flow and oxygen levels as the heart beats faster and works harder.

Stress tests are often performed to help determine the cause of chest pain or shortness-of-breath. Stress tests also help diagnose narrowing of the heart’s blood vessels, which is indicative of coronary artery disease.

A cardiac stress test actually consists of several separate tests that, when ordered together, is called a Cardiac Stress Test.

The separate tests are:

  • An exercise treadmill test
  • An electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG)
  • An echocardiogram and
  • A stress echocardiogram.

Walking on the treadmill and having an EKG can be a stand-alone test, or may be done as a component of the echocardiogram stress test.

About the tests:

  • Treadmill Exercise Test – The patient walks on a treadmill to make the heart work harder. During this test the patient’s blood pressure and oxygen levels are monitored. Wear loose, comfortable clothing such as a sweat suit, plus walking shoes or sneaker.
  • The EKG or ECG measures heart rate and is obtained by attaching electrodes to the chest, abdomen, arms and legs. It is a quick and painless procedure.
  • Echocardiogram – A series of still and motion images of the heart obtained by ultrasound to evaluate the heart muscle, arteries, valves and chambers of the heart. The patient lies comfortably on a stretcher while the echo tech scans the heart by placing the ultrasound probe in different positions on the chest, back and upper abdomen to obtain different views of the heart. For a stress test, the heart is imaged before and after the exercise treadmill test.
  • Dobutamine Stress testing is performed when a patient cannot walk on the treadmill to exercise or stress the heart. Dobutamine is a medication that causes the heart to respond the same way it does to normal exercise.

As noted, these tests can be combined to serve as a cardiac stress test or performed separately as independent tests.

For more information, call 207-369-1131.