Why You Should Get a Stress Test in Florida if You’re Over 50
Did you know adults aged 65 or older are more likely to experience heart problems than younger adults? Aging causes changes in the heart that can lead to cardiovascular disease.
We recommend that people start considering getting a stress test in Florida after the age of 50. Why so young, though? We’re here to talk about it.
Read on to learn all about stress tests, what they consist of, what they can catch, and why we think starting around age 50 instead of age 65 can be helpful.
What Is a Stress Test?
A stress test is a medical test that evaluates the condition of a patient’s cardiovascular health. A machine will measure the electrical activity of the heart while the patient exercises and is at rest. Exercise is the “stress” part of the stress test.
A stress test is considered one of the most reliable and important cardiovascular tests for evaluating heart health and the potential for future heart problems.
Who Should Get a Stress Test in Florida?
Most people who get a stress test do so because they’re experiencing unusual symptoms that could relate to their heart.
These symptoms can include heart flutters, slow heart rate, fast heart rate, chest pain, or even breathing changes. If someone is experiencing shortness of breath, that may actually be a heart issue rather than a lung issue!
Dizziness is another reason someone may get a stress test. There are many potential reasons for dizziness, but it’s good to rule out heart issues if possible, and a stress test is an easy way to do that.
Some people get stress tests because they’re trying to determine a safe level of exercise. This isn’t uncommon for older people who haven’t had a consistent workout routine in a while and are nervous about getting started again.
Why Would Someone Over 50 Want a Stress Test?
People over the age of 50 may want to consider getting a stress test. It’s more likely for heart problems to start making themselves apparent as you enter your 50s and 60s.
While people 65 and older are most likely to experience heart problems, getting an early evaluation in your 50s may help you avoid future complications or catch problems when they’re still early enough to fix with lifestyle changes.
While stress tests are diagnostic tools, they can also be preventative. If you’re getting a checkup for the rest of your body, why wouldn’t you also want to get a thorough checkup for your heart health?
Even if you think your heart is healthy, it’s never a bad thing to make sure.
What Does a Stress Test Consist Of?
There are two types of stress test options that your cardiologist in West Palm Beach can do. They’re similar. You can do the basic exercise stress test or the nuclear stress test.
Here’s a brief overview of both of them!
Exercise Stress Test
During a standard exercise stress test, a patient will do an exercise while a technician monitors their heart. The exercise will generally be on a treadmill or stationary bike, but this varies depending on the patient’s capabilities.
The technician will monitor the patient’s blood pressure, breathing, and heart rate. They’ll also note down how tired the patient feels during the test.
The patient will have sticky sensors on their chest that will hook up to an EKG.
After the exercise portion of the test, the technician will continue monitoring the patient’s heart to see what happens as they calm down and their heart rate returns to normal.
Nuclear Stress Test
So what makes a nuclear stress test different?
If a doctor suspects coronary heart disease due to the symptoms the patient is reporting, they may use this test instead.
The technician will inject a tracer into the patient’s bloodstream and monitor it with a special camera. The camera will be able to see the tracer move through the patient’s body and catch any areas where blood isn’t flowing properly.
The patient will still be exercising during this test.
Possible Things That a Stress Test Can Diagnose or Evaluate
So what is a doctor trying to find if they ask you to complete a stress test? Most of the time, stress tests are for diagnoses, but not always. Here are a few things that a stress test can diagnose or evaluate.
Narrowing or Blocked Arteries
A stress test can help your doctor determine if you have narrowing or blocked arteries. Your arteries supply blood to your heart. When they’re somehow obstructed, it puts more stress on your heart.
There are some natural variations in the width of people’s arteries, but a stress test is a good way to determine if heart-related symptoms are the result of blockage.
It may indicate coronary artery disease or CAD. This condition often becomes clinically apparent by age 40, and it impacts a large percentage of adults. This makes it reasonable to get a stress test at age 50 to catch it even if you don’t have any obvious symptoms.
Determining a Safe Level of Exercise
If you’re an older adult who hasn’t been exercising frequently, it may be difficult to know how much exercise is “too much” for your current health level.
Exercise is always a good thing. The average adult should get 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise. But if you’re not careful, you could overwhelm your heart (especially if there is an underlying condition at play).
A stress test may help your doctor determine how much exercise is safe for you and your heart (or track your exercise progress as your heart gets healthier).
Irregular Heart Rhythms
A stress test is a good diagnostic tool for irregular heart rhythms (or arrhythmia). If someone’s heart beats too fast, too slow, or with an unusual rhythm, it’s a sign that something is wrong (though again, there are normal variations in all patients).
Arrhythmias are sometimes so mild that it’s difficult to notice them without proper testing. Patients may have symptoms that seem unrelated, like shortness of breath, fatigue, or sweating. They may also notice “heart flutters.”
A stress test will help a doctor rule out (or in) arrhythmia as a problem.
What to Do Before Your Stress Test
Before your stress test, your doctor will give you specific instructions to follow. They may vary depending on your situation, and it’s important to follow them carefully.
There are a few things that almost everyone has to do before a stress test, however.
First, make sure you don’t eat anything after midnight. You should also avoid caffeine for twelve hours before the test. This includes decaffeinated drinks and medication that contains caffeine.
Caffeine has an influence on your heart, even if you don’t usually notice it. That small influence can make a big difference.
People with diabetes and certain other medical conditions may be able to have a snack before the test. Talk to your doctor first. You may also continue drinking water and you should bring a snack with you.
Patients should avoid oils or lotions on their chest. They should also avoid using nicotine products (including gum and patches).
Wear comfortable clothing and walking shoes.
What to Do After Your Stress Test
Immediately after you finish exercising, your technician will have you rest with the monitors in place. Then, when they remove the monitors, you will be able to have a snack and drink water if you choose to do so. Your technician will tell you when it’s okay.
After your stress test, the doctor will evaluate the results and reach out if there’s anything abnormal. From that point, they’ll help you determine a treatment plan if necessary.
Are Stress Tests Safe for People Over 50?
Yes. Stress tests are safe for people over 50. While complications can arise during any medical procedure, they are unlikely and there is a team of medical professionals nearby at all times just in case.
If the patient feels uncomfortable during the stress test, they may take a break or stop completely. Some level of discomfort is normal (after all, the patient’s body is under physical stress), but that mild exercise-induced discomfort isn’t dangerous.
Do You Need to Schedule a Stress Test in Florida?
There are many reasons why someone over the age of 50 may want to schedule a stress test in Florida. It’s a quick and simple procedure that can rule out potential issues that aren’t uncommon in older adults.
While 50 may seem young, it’s the perfect age to locate problems while they’re still somewhat easy to fix, handle, or even reverse. Consider it a type of advanced preventative care.
If you’re ready to schedule a stress test, we want to meet you! Contact us for more information or to request a stress test today.