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Should You Have a Stress Test?

What you need to know about heart health.

A stress test can save your life. It’s designed to detect severely blocked coronary arteries, a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke. If you’re at risk for heart disease or are experiencing symptoms that could point to heart trouble, it’s a good idea to talk to your provider about getting a stress test.

Coronary arteries and heart disease

Your heart receives its blood supply from special blood vessels called coronary arteries. Narrowing, hardening or plaque buildup in the coronary arteries is the most common form of heart disease, known as coronary artery disease (CAD).

Heart disease remains the No. 1 cause of death in the United States. It’s estimated that one in 13 American adults has CAD, and nearly 1 million Americans each year will have a heart attack. Prevention and early detection are key to protecting your heart and lowering your risk of heart attack or stroke.

At his Southern California practice, Dr. Samuel I. Fink specializes in comprehensive health care. He offers valuable tools — including stress tests — that help determine your heart disease risk so you can make vital changes to protect your heart.

What is a stress test?

When you visit Dr. Fink for a stress test, you can expect to walk on a treadmill while electrodes attached to an electrocardiogram (EKG) track the rhythm of your heart. As the pace increases and your heart works harder to pump blood throughout your body, the EKG picks up any abnormalities.

Additionally, Dr. Fink keeps track of your blood pressure and makes note of any symptoms you may experience, including shortness of breath, chest pain, and fatigue.

What does a stress test tell you?

A spike in blood pressure, heart-related symptoms, or an abnormal EKG result may mean that you have coronary artery disease. A stress test is designed to detect coronary arteries that have 70% or more blockage. The test provides valuable insight into how your heart functions and your risk of heart attack or stroke.

Who should get a stress test?

Anyone with risk factors for heart disease can benefit from getting a stress test. Major risk factors for heart disease are:

Additional testing

Dr. Fink may order additional testing to confirm your result. A stress test cannot tell you if you have mild to moderate coronary artery disease. You could have less than 70% blockage in your coronary arteries and still be at risk for complications such as a heart attack.

Putting it all together

Getting a stress test is a good step toward determining your risk for heart disease. To get a full picture of your heart health, Dr. Fink may order an imaging test of the heart, such as an ultrasound of the heart muscle. If you’re diagnosed with heart disease, you can lower your chances of complications with medication and lifestyle changes.  

A stress test is a valuable tool in the fight against heart disease. For more information and to schedule an appointment with Dr. Fink, call the office in Tarzana, California. You also can book an appointment online through this website.

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