Before starting a cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) program, a thorough risk assessment will be done to find out your heart health and the types of exercises you can safely do. Testing may be done before and during cardiac rehab to help your doctor decide whether you can safely take part in a program and to monitor your progress.
Tests to find out your ability to exercise that may be done before you start cardiac rehab include:
Echocardiogram (echo), a type of ultrasound test that uses high-pitched sound waves to produce an image of the heart. The sound waves are sent through a device called a transducer and are reflected off the various structures of the heart. This test shows how well your heart is pumping blood and how well your heart valves are working. Sometimes it is combined with an exercise stress test.
Cardiac perfusion scan, a test to estimate the amount of blood reaching the heart muscle during rest and exercise. It is typically done to find out the cause of unexplained chest pain or to find out the location and amount of injured heart muscle after a heart attack.
Ambulatory electrocardiogram (Holter monitoring test), which monitors the electrical activity of your heart while you go about your usual daily activities. Many heart problems occur only during certain activities, such as exercise, eating, sex, emotional stress, bowel movements, or even sleeping. A continuous recording is much more likely to detect any abnormal heartbeats that occur during these activities.
You will be monitored closely when you first begin your cardiac rehab program. But after your exercise program is well established, you probably won't need continuous supervision. But if your doctor determines that you have special needs, he or she may want you to wear a monitoring device at home.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
March 12, 2014
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