VA North Texas Health Care System
Stress Tests Now Available at Fort Worth VA
Clarence Wilson, Jr. is following doctor’s orders and getting a stress test. His abnormal electrocardiogram or ECG may be a symptom of something serious, and a stress test can show if there are signs of heart blood vessel blockage. Mr. Wilson is in great shape and a former marathon runner. But knowing that black Americans are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease, he was quick to get his stress test scheduled at Fort Worth VA Outpatient Clinic.
A stress test measures heart rate changes and abnormal rhythms under strenuous exercise. Until recently, stress tests were only provided at Dallas VA Medical Center. But through a pilot collaborative project with Cardiology and Nuclear Medicine, imaging services and diagnostic exercise are guiding specific treatment plans and therapies for each individual patient.
Before the stress test, a single-photon emission computed tomography or SPECT scan produces molecular images of the resting blood flow to the heart. These images help detect, localize and diagnose diseases and assess organ function. After the stress test is complete, stress imaging shows the blood flow pattern to heart muscle during exercise. During the treadmill test, the doctor learns how your heart responds to being pushed. Heart rates and breathing are monitored as the pace moves faster and incline steeper every three minutes.
For Mr. Wilson, the stress test was a piece of cake. This Marine Corps Veteran retired after 22 years of service from Camp Lejuene, Okinawa, Hawaii and the Gulf, to name a few. He says, “Life is a process from one stage to another,” and doesn’t dwell on the negative as it can hold you back. Knowing the results of his stress test gives him, and his doctor, added confidence in any treatment he might need. After his stress test at Fort Worth VA, he was preparing to board a cruise ship where he works in deck repair.
His best advice to other Veterans is to listen to your doctor when prescribed a stress test and don’t put it off. “Listen to your body and make sure the warning signs are treated before they become more serious,” he said.