If you're suffering from chest pain, find it difficult to breathe, or want to make sure that you're healthy enough for certain activities, your doctor may order a procedure called a stress test. A stress test (also known as an exercise test) uses physical activity to make your heart work faster. You'll be monitored during the test so that your doctor can detect potential problems with your heart. Here are a few things to do before your stress test to ensure accurate results.
1. Ask If You Need to Stop Taking Any of Your Prescriptions
Make sure that your doctor is aware of any prescription or over-the-counter medications that you are taking so that they can provide you with accurate information for stopping your medication prior to your stress test. Medications that impact the performance of your heart or stimulate the body can both impact the results of your test.
Check that you know when you need to stop taking the medication and if it's necessary to slowly lower your dosage before you stop taking it completely. Don't stop any medications without talking to your physician.
2. Skip Your Morning Cup of Coffee
Coffee contains caffeine, and caffeine is a stimulant that affects the central nervous system. It may make you feel more awake, but it also increases your resting heart rate. This can sway the results of your test.
Plan on avoiding caffeinated beverages (including energy drinks and caffeinated tea) on the day of your test. Most doctors recommend that you skip caffeine for at least 12 hours before your test. If you consume beverages with lower amounts of caffeine (like soda or hot chocolate), talk to your doctor to see if you also need to skip them prior to your test.
3. Lay Out a Comfortable Outfit
During your stress test, you'll engage in some type of physical activity (usually running or cycling). If you don't regularly exercise, you might be uncomfortable engaging in monitored physical activity. Make sure that your outfit doesn't contribute to your stress or anxiety by laying out a comfortable outfit. Avoid dresses, skirts, jeans, dress pants, and heavy, bulky garments.
Workout clothing and many types of loungewear are okay. Leggings, sweatpants, and yoga pants are all good options, as are loose-fitting t-shirts and sweatshirts. Women may prefer to wear a sports bra for optimal comfort. Don't forget your footwear; a pair of cushioned socks and tennis shoes will keep your feet comfortable while you exercise. Contact Alpert Zales & Castro Pediatric Cardiology to learn more.