What Are The Stress Test Medications?

Dr. Krumholz answers the question: 'What Are The Stress Test Medications?'

— -- Question: What are the differences between the medicines used in a medicine stress test?

Answer: If you can't exercise, but you need a stress test, then your doctor may recommend for you to have one where we use drugs to essentially stress the heart. And there are different kinds of drugs and different kinds of tests that are used, and there are ways that we stress the heart that can provide different insights.

Now, in many cases, this is just a matter of preference, or what a particular office or hospital can do, or what they have the most experience with. One kind of medicine, called adenosine, actually affects the blood vessels by causing them to dilate or get a little bigger. But the vessels that are hardened or are narrowed can't dilate, so it diverts the blood away from that area where they're narrowed toward the area where they can get bigger. It's almost like a river where the tributaries are going to get a little larger and the blood sort of gets diverted down that way and can create a mismatch that we can image and see whether or not there's evidence that there's problems with the blood flow of the heart.

Now there are other ways that we can do it too, there's actually a medicine that we can give you that can cause your heart to squeeze harder, and for it to go faster, and almost to simulate exercise, work harder, and in that case, we can look at your electrocardiogram, we can also take pictures of your heart, and see how does your heart work under that type of stress.

The kind of thing that's recommended to you is likely to be the one that whose ever recommending to you has the most experience with, because from our point of view, there's only very few times where one is more strongly indicated than the other. They do exist, and they are not worth going into in this case, but they're things that you should talk to your doctor about. But in general, we have tended to use both of these techniques to great success for people who can't exercise, but need a stress test.

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