From time to time, you may have heard people talk about “stress tests.” While all students know that tests can certainly be stressful, are there tests specifically about stress? And do you need to study for them?
A stress test — also commonly known as a “cardiac stress test” — is a physical test used so a doctor can learn more about how a person’s heart works during physical stress. If a doctor thinks a patient may have heart problems, such as coronary artery disease or an irregular heart rhythm, he may use a stress test to make a diagnosis.
Some heart problems are easier to uncover when the heart is beating fast during exercise. A stress test usually involves walking on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike while the doctor monitors a patient’s heart rhythm, blood pressure and breathing.
If a patient cannot exercise for some reason, a doctor can also give the patient medicine that will make the heart work hard like it would during exercise. This is called a “pharmacological stress test.”
Although there’s really no way to study for a stress test, there are things you can do to improve your heart health and thereby reduce the chance that you’ll ever need a stress test. Here are some simple tips to follow to help prevent heart disease:
- Don’t smoke or use tobacco! Chemicals in tobacco have been linked to heart problems, such as narrowing of the arteries. Avoid smoking and using tobacco, and you’ll avoid one of the most significant risk factors for developing heart disease.
- Exercise at least 30 minutes per day several days each week. Regular, daily exercise helps you control your weight and reduces your chance of developing other conditions that may strain your heart, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.
- Eat a nutritious, heart-healthy diet. Doctors recommend foods that are low in fat, cholesterol and salt. A diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and low-fat sources of protein will help keep your heart healthy. You’ll also want to avoid saturated fat and trans fat as much as possible.
- Try to maintain a healthy weight. Talk to your doctor about your ideal weight and strive to achieve it. Overweight people are at greater risk of developing many different types of health problems that can endanger the heart.
- Go to the doctor! An apple a day may chase the doctor away, but regular health screenings are important. Getting tested regularly for diabetes, cholesterol levels and blood pressure will help you detect potential problems early.
In addition to reducing the physical stress on your heart, these strategies can also help to reduce the amount of mental stress you may feel from time to time. Mental stress is that feeling you get when you’re nervous or worried about something.
Often, mental stress ends up being felt physically in the form of headaches, stomachaches or other bodily pains. Mental stress often makes us lose sleep and lose track of a well-balanced diet.
You may hear adults talk about feeling stressed. “I’m so stressed out!” can also often be heard in the hallways of many schools, especially around test time. That’s because children can feel mental stress just like adults.
Some adults don’t believe children get stressed because they don’t have jobs and the same types of pressures adults do. However, today’s children lead busy lives, too.
Schoolwork, bullies, competitive sports and family situations can all create stress in the lives of children.