Thursday, October 16, 2003

Stress Testing


~ A Thallium Stress Test is performed to determine if you have had any instances of interrupted blood supply, or ischemia to your cardiac muscle. They pop you on a cardiac monitor, one of those devices that give you a continual readout of squiggly lines (that hopefully doesn't "flatline" while you're on it, although in my past experience this usually occurs due to a lead falling off) Then they start the treadmill and gradually increase the rate and incline so eventually you end up going uphill at a fair pace, all the while the peaks and troughs on your electro cardiograph (E.C.G. or E.K.G in some places) get closer and closer together, indicating your heart rate is increasing. At a heart rate of about 178 bpm or so, they inject you with RADIOACTIVE material (thallium) that targets your heart muscle cells, going into these cells via the cell membrane's Potassium Ion pump during the active exercise phase. All this they did to me...shortly after you get to lie in a couple of uncomfortable positions for about 30 minutes while a machine takes pictures of your chest and where all the radioactive targeting material decided to accumulate. It was very strange to experience this first hand, but the Doctor thought I should to rule out (or *gulp* in) any cardiac problems, as I had experienced a bit of left neck and jaw pain, accompanied by an aching left arm the other week. These kind of symptoms can indicate a "heart attack" is happening (that was why I was flat on my back at work for a few hours a while back, they popped me in a bed on the monitor and took some blood tests & ECG's etc. just to be on the safe side) Thankfully everything has come back NORMAL. So obviously it was just a pulled muscle or something causing those symptoms. It's nice to know your heart is ok, even though your brain obviously isn't! I almost forgot to say, the best thing about all this being over is...I can drink COFFEE again! ;-)>

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