Everything you need to know about getting a stress test

Is your upcoming stress test stressing you out? Don't worry, McLaren Greater Lansing's experts have the answers to your questions.

A doctor will order a stress test if someone is experiencing chest pain, shortness of breath, or arrythmia or if they are having surgery and the test is needed for cardiac clearance. The test is an assessment tool to see how the heart is functioning and how blood flow is getting to the heart.

"A stress test will indicate how the heart works during physical activity or stress," said Sarah Bush, exercise physiologist at McLaren Greater Lansing.

The test can be performed on a treadmill or with medicine and imaging, which is called a nuclear stress test. Depending on the type of test being done, the patient may be asked to hold off on taking certain medications or caffeine products and wear comfortable clothing.

"If the test result is normal, we encourage our patients to continue risk factor modification and a healthy lifestyle," said Bush. Risk factor modification includes controlling your blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol; not smoking; and maintaining an active lifestyle.

"If the test is abnormal, it could indicate that there might be a blockage or narrowing of the coronary arteries and that further evaluation is needed," said Bush. "A patient would need a coronary angiogram to confirm these findings and to schedule a follow-up appointment with a cardiologist."

McLaren Greater Lansing has cardiologists who are accepting new patients. For more information on how to schedule an appointment with a cardiologist or to discuss if a stress test would be right for you, visit our webpage or contact McLaren Cardiovascular Group in Okemos at (517) 347-3000.