McLaren Caro Region Upgrades Cardiac Stress Testing System

Protecting your heart is a gift to the people you love. McLaren Caro Region upgraded its cardiac stress testing system to offer even better diagnosis and treatment of cardiac conditions, which helps you give this gift.

The hospital recently installed a new Quinton® Q-Stress Cardiac Stress Testing System to solve some of the common challenges of stress tests. Stacey Roth, Supervisor of Imaging Services, said the new machine offers exceptional accuracy in real-time ST-segment monitoring, arrhythmia detection, resting EKG interpretation, and delivers critical data through each stage of the exam. 

A stress test shows how the heart works during physical activity. Exercise makes the heart pump harder and faster, which makes it easier to see how the blood flows. Your physician may recommend a stress test to diagnose and treat conditions such as coronary artery disease or irregular heart rhythms. A stress test also can help physicians see how treatments are working.

Roth, a Registered Technologist in Nuclear Medicine, said several different types of tests are available at McLaren Caro Region:

  • An Exercise Stress Test, which monitors the heart while the patient exercises on a treadmill.
  • A Stress Echocardiogram, which takes pictures before and after exercise and measures blood flow through the heart to give physicians a picture of heart valve structure and heart wall function.
  • A Nuclear Cardiac Stress Test, which measures blood flow through the heart muscle at rest and during stress. Rest and stress images aide in the diagnosis of ischemic (heart muscle that is not getting enough blood flow) heart disease.Gated imaging is also obtained to show how well the heart muscle is pumping.
  • Pharmacologic Stress Tests also are available for patients who cannot exercise. For the test, patients are given a medication through an IV that has a similar effect on the heart as exercise.

Scheduling a stress test at McLaren Caro Region offers benefits beyond the new technology. Roth said the smaller facility means less wait time for an appointment and fewer patients means physicians and patients get results faster too.

Quality never suffers for speed, though. A board certified cardiologist oversees all stress tests at McLaren Caro Region along with a specialized radiologist that interprets the nuclear medicine portion of the exam.

What to expect from your stress test at McLaren Caro Region

If your doctor orders a stress test, ask if it’s safe to continue taking your prescription and over-the-counter medications on the day of the test. If you use an inhaler for breathing problems, bring it with you to the test.

McLaren Caro recommends that patients do not eat or drink anything for at least 4 hours before the test. You should avoid anything with caffeine (coffee, tea, chocolate, or pop) for 12 hours before the test. This includes decaffeinated coffee and tea, as they still contain small amounts of caffeine.

Depending on what test(s) your physician orders, total time varies from 1 to 3 hours and additional preparation may be required. No matter which type of testing you need, you should wear comfortable clothing and walking shoes.

One advantage to the Q-Stress machine is those signals travel without wires, making the testing process a little more comfortable.

For the tests to be effective, you must raise your heart rate. If you have had heart problems in the past, making your heart beat faster might be a little uncomfortable. But, rest assured, the staff will monitor you throughout the test and stop you if the exertion is too much. When the test is over, you will continue being monitoring to see how long it takes your heart to recover.

If your provider feels a stress test is right for you, please contact McLaren Caro Region at (989) 672-5111. We would be happy to answer your questions, contact your physician, or help you understand your insurance requirements.