Stress Testing Specialist

Woodlands Heart and Vascular Institute

Cardiologists & Interventional Cardiologists located in The Woodlands, TX

A stress test shows how well your heart works when you’re active. While it helps diagnose many heart problems, it’s essential for identifying conditions that only appear while pushing your heart to work harder. At Woodlands Heart and Vascular Institute, Laura Fernandes, MD, FACC, performs stress tests in the comfort of her office in The Woodlands, Texas. Dr. Fernandes carefully monitors your health throughout the test and immediately interprets the results. To schedule a stress test, call the office or book online today.

Stress Testing Q & A

What is a stress test?

A stress test reveals how well your heart works when your physical activity increases and your heart must pump more blood out to your body.

In most cases, you exercise on a stationary bike or treadmill to raise your heart rate. If you can’t tolerate the exertion, Dr. Fernandes may boost your heart activity using medication.

When would I need a stress test?

Dr. Fernandes often recommends a stress test to determine the cause of heart-related symptoms such as chest pain or a fast heartbeat.

A stress test can help to:

  • Diagnose coronary artery disease
  • Diagnose heart arrhythmias
  • Diagnose heart valve problems
  • Diagnose heart failure
  • Detect problems with blood flow in your heart
  • Determine the best treatment for a heart condition
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of heart treatments

Dr. Fernandes also uses the results of a stress test to develop a safe exercise program.

What happens during an exercise treadmill stress test?

Dr. Fernandes places electrodes on your chest, legs, and arms and connects them to an electrocardiogram (EKG) machine. The EKG continuously records the electrical activity in your heart while you exercise on a treadmill.

During an exercise stress test, you will also have a blood pressure cuff on your arm, so Dr. Fernandes can monitor your blood pressure. Then you walk on the treadmill as Dr. Fernandes increases your intensity level to boost your heart rate at specific times.

Dr. Fernandes constantly monitors your health during your exercise stress test, so you can tell her if you don’t feel well or can’t tolerate the exercise.

What should I expect during a Cardiolite nuclear stress test?

During a Cardiolite nuclear stress test, Dr. Fernandes injects a substance called Cardiolite into your bloodstream and then takes images of your heart before and after your exercise stress test using a gamma camera.

The gamma camera allows Dr. Fernandes to observe the Cardiolite as it circulates throughout your body. These images show the areas of your heart that are healthy, as well as the areas that aren’t functioning normally while your heart is at rest and after strenuous activity.

As Dr. Fernandes compares blood flow photos taken before and after your stress test, she can measure your heart muscle function and identify problems such as blockages and scarring. The nuclear stress test also provides details that allow her to predict your risk of future heart problems.

What happens during a Lexiscan nuclear pharmaceutical stress test?

For a Lexiscan nuclear pharmaceutical stress test, Dr. Fernandes begins by injecting Cardiolite into your bloodstream through an IV. Using a gamma camera, she then takes images of your heart and circulatory activity while you're at rest.

Dr. Frenandes then applies a series of electrodes that are attached to an EKG monitor to your chest and observes your blood pressure and heart rate while you’re lying down, sitting up, and standing. 

Next, Dr. Fernandes intravenously administers a medication called Lexiscan and asks you to move your legs to simulate walking. She then flushes your IV with a saline solution before administering another dose of Cardiolite. 

Dr. Frenandes then monitors your heart rate and blood pressure throughout the test to better understand your heart’s functioning. If you experience any concerning or abnormal symptoms, like dizziness, shortness of breath, or lightheadedness, be sure to let Dr. Fernandes know right away. 

After removing your IV, you’re asked to wait for 30-60 minutes while you're monitored by the Woodlands Heart and Vascular Institute team. As the Cardiolite circulates throughout your body, Dr. Frenandes uses the gamma camera to take additional images of your heart and coronary arteries. These images allow her to assess your current cardiac health and risk of developing heart problems in the future. 

When you need a stress test, call Woodlands Heart and Vascular Institute, or request an appointment using the online booking tool today.