Six months ago I had a stress test and was given a clean bill of health. Last week I felt chest pain, went to the ER and was given a stent—my third in five years. If a stress test isn’t the right test for monitoring my heart, what else should my doctor be doing?
A stress test enables the doctor to visualize blood flow to the heart at rest and under a stressor, such as exercise. The test will reveal a problem only if the amount of plaque in a coronary artery is above a certain percentage or is limiting blood flow. Therefore, stress tests are good for predicting heart attack risk in someone with stable coronary artery disease. It’s important to understand that a “normal” result means you have a low risk of heart attack, not no risk.