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Exercise and Pharmacological Stress Testing

Exercise stress testing is used to measure how well a patientís heart performs while under stress. The results are used to predict a patientís risk of future heart attack, diagnose cardiovascular conditions, and to determine a safe level of exercise. During the test, a patient is asked to perform a stress-inducing task, such as walking on a treadmill. As the speed and incline increases, the patientís heart rate, breathing and blood pressure are monitored throughout. Patients are asked to explain feelings they may be experiencing during the test, such as dizziness or weakness.

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Some patients are unable to perform exercise stress testing due to certain medical conditions or physical limitations. These patients are instead given medications that are designed to increase stress on the heart, either by widening the coronary arteries to allow for greater blood flow, or by acting as adrenaline to increase the amount of work the heart does. This simulates the effects of exercise, allowing physicians to monitor blood flow to the heart.

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