What Happens When I Get An Abnormal Result On My Stress Test?

Dr. David Faxon answers the question: 'Abnormal Stress Test Results?'

ByDavid Faxon, M.D., Director of Strategic Planning for the Department of Medicine Brigham and Women's Hospital; Chief of Cardiology, Boston VA Health Care System
November 19, 2008, 4:25 PM

— -- Question: What happens when I get an abnormal result on my stress test?

Answer: I kind of think of the results of a stress test in three categories. One is that it doesn't show that there's any problem with your heart. Your heart works fine and there's no evidence there are any blockages around the heart.

The second category is that there is a problem; there's evidence that there is some blockages, but it's not too bad. It's something that likely can be treated easily by medication.

And the last category is that it's very severe, that it suggests there are many blockages of the arteries, or that the blockage that is very severe, and that more needs to be done to understand the severity of the problem. And usually patients who fall into that category undergo a coronary angiogram to determine how severe, because the coronary angiogram is a real picture of what the blockages look like around the heart.

The exercise test and the scanning procedures just give a shadow and tell us if it's a small, medium, or large problem. But it doesn't tell us exactly what's going on. The angiogram is much more precise in that setting.

Next: What Tests Are Done To Diagnose An Actual Heart Attack?

Previous: If Stress Tests Are Not 100 Percent Accurate, Why Shouldn't My Doctor Just Order A Cardiac Catheterization?

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