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What a Stress Test Can Tell You About Your Heart

Feb 14, 2024
What a Stress Test Can Tell You About Your Heart
Your heart is an organ you literally can’t live without. It pumps blood through your veins, arteries, and blood vessels throughout the body, and illnesses that block the arteries can lead to heart disease. Read on to find out how stress tests help.

Heart health is vital. After all, this fist-shaped organ is central to so much of how your body works. Its atria, valves, and ventricles are connected to your vast network of arteries, veins, and blood vessels to deliver oxygen, and numerous other nutrients throughout your body, pumping 2,000 gallons of blood and beating 115,000 times daily.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death among both men and women, and across most ethnic and racial demographics, with 695,000 American deaths from the disease in 2021 alone.

To determine whether you’re at risk for this illness or are struggling with the symptoms, diagnostic methods like stress tests are very helpful and can make a difference in your subsequent care. Let’s examine the benefits of this health screening by looking at how your heart works, the types of heart disease you can get, and what stress tests do to help.

If you live in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, New York, and you’re struggling with heart problems, Drs. Haleh Milani, Maria Paliou, and Elaine Kang and their dedicated medical staff at Central Park West Primary Care and Cardiology Physicians can help.

How the heart works

This cardiac organ is the center of the circulatory system, and is composed of four chambers, two upper atria, and two lower ventricles which are separated by tissue called the septum for the atria and valves for the ventricles. 

The atria are the part that receive blood (the right side takes in deoxygenated blood that goes to the lungs), and the ventricles discharge newly oxygenated blood through your body. 

Think of your heart as the major pump that pushes blood through your veins like a plumbing system, where the right amount of pressure moves everything normally so your cells can get the oxygen and nutrients they need when they need them. Heart problems are often the result of blockages or too much or too little blood pressure.

Types of heart disease

This is the general term that describes a range of issues that affect your heart’s health, which can affect different parts of the organ and how they work. Dealing with heart problems means trouble sending nutrients through your body, and the conditions that can do that include:

  • Coronary artery disease: the most common form of heart disease, this is when fatty deposits cause your heart’s blood vessels to narrow
  • Arrhythmias: another name for irregular heartbeat, whether it’s beating too fast or doesn’t have a regular beating pattern
  • Cardiomyopathy: a condition where abnormal heart muscles are unable to properly pump blood to the rest of the body
  • Pericardium: this is the term for fluid-filled sacs that can develop and surround your heart
  • Heart failure: this condition results from problems with the heart squeezing and relaxing properly
  • Congenital heart disease: this is the term for heart problems that you’ve been dealing with since birth

There’s also a number of heart valve diseases that keep blood from flowing the way it should, like valvular stenosis, valvular insufficiency, and valvular atresia.

How stress tests help to diagnose them

Also referred to as a cardiac exercise test or cardiac stress test, this is an in-office screening that places you on a treadmill or stationary cycle where your vitals are taken and are monitored while you run. Your heart needs physical activity to keep things working efficiently, and this test keeps you active while testing how your heart is working under various levels of stress. 

This method can help determine how healthy your circulatory and cardiovascular systems are, by monitoring blood oxygen levels, pulse, blood pressure, and heart rate. This way, you can confirm coronary artery disease and various other heart diseases, and even observe the progression of congestive heart failure.

Stress tests are a reliable tool to check your heart health to help formulate a plan of action for care. If you’re struggling with heart problems and you need to get screenings like stress tests to diagnose problems, make an appointment with Drs. Milani, Paliou, and Kang, and their team at Central Park West Primary Care and Cardiology Physicians today.