One of the challenges Hudson County Cardiologists face is how to accurately diagnose symptoms reported by our patients that are sporadic, meaning that they don’t necessarily appear all the time. For example, patients may complain of chest pains, irregular heartbeat, or breathing problems, but when Hudson County cardiologists perform an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) test while they are sitting quietly in our offices, these symptoms don’t show up, so we can’t measure or analyze them.

In such cases, we may recommend a stress test. Don’t let that title put you off – a stress test does not involve anything scary or emotionally stressful. It is a non-invasive test we perform in our offices that measures the electrical activity of your heart while it is “under load,” as you exercise. During a regular stress test (sometimes called an exercise stress test), we measure your pulse, blood pressure, and your heart’s electrical activity (ECG) while you walk on a treadmill.

The treadmill is pre-programmed so that its speed and degree of incline changes every 3 minutes, according to a standard protocol. As the exercise period continues, you are constantly monitored by the best heart doctors in Hudson County and asked whether you are experiencing symptoms such as chest pains, difficulty breathing, or palpitations. If you suffer from a disease that has caused blockages in your arteries, then during the exercise period your heart tissue may become ischemic (insufficiently supplied with blood), and that will show up in the ECG results.

Stress tests are often scheduled for the morning, and you may be advised to refrain from eating or drinking before it. You should wear light clothing and wear comfortable shoes. The test itself is non-invasive, but you may have electrode patches applied to your body and may wear a blood pressure cuff. The exercise portion of the test usually takes only about ten minutes, but because there may be some preparatory and waiting time, you should reserve a half an hour for the full test.

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