Well, following a minor episode I had a few weeks ago after running, my wife insisted I see my doctor. I had, after all, recently stopped taking my blood pressure medicine. Yes, with my doctors permission of course. It really kind of scared me at first and so it didn't take much prodding to get me to go. It had been a year since I had seen him so it was time for a check-up anyway. He didn't think it was anything to worry about, but for precautionary purposes he ordered a stress test to determine if I had any blockage.
I guess I wasn't really privy to all that was involved in a stress test. My mother had one several years ago, but didn't really elaborate on the details of the procedure. I was actually admitted to the hospital as an outpatient and had to go through the whole insurance approval process. Let me tell you a stress test isn't cheap! Anyway, after being admitted I was taken back to what I believe was an MRI apparatus. The technician put in an IV for giving injections and injected me with a radioactive substance so that images could be taken of my heart. I have to tell you that this unnerved me just a little but that's how it's done so what can you do?
After lying with my hands over my head for 20 minutes while the MRI was taken, I was then taken to another room for the treadmill portion of this procedure. I was hooked up to a heart monitor with 8 probes that were glued to various parts of my abdomen and then had to get on a treadmill until my heart rate reached a certain "target". As the test proceeded the speed and incline of the treadmill were both progressively increased to attain the desired heart rate. Every 2 minutes another technician took my blood presure which isn't easy to do while running on a treadmill mind you. Then during the most strenuous portion of the test, the radiology technician had to inject me with the second round of radioactive "stuff". So one of them had my right arm, the other had my left hand while I am running uphill on a treadmill that is going fast enough to raise my heartbeat to this "desired" level. No wonder the doctor had to be present during the test.
I was on the treadmill for around 12 minutes which is no time to me, but evidently much longer than most people require to elevate their heart rate to the target level. I was then returned to the MRI machine for another 20 minute session of lying still with my hands over my head. Now, maybe I have bad circulation or something, but after 20 minutes with my arms in the position they were in, my arms were as limp as spagetti. I could barely even feel them, much less use them to get up. Somehow I managed though and was finally finished. Let me just say that now I completely understand why it's called a "stress" test and believe me -- my stress was tested!
I am happy to report that the next day my doctor called and said that the test showed my heart to be in perfectly good condition and certainly not the cause of my little incident. He said that my blood pressure probably just dropped from a combination of the heat and exercise and that he has experienced the same thing on occasion. I am very thankful to the CRMC staff and Dr. Darter for the care they showed for me. I can joke about it now but I was actually pretty worried about it, especially that morning. They were compassionate and helpful in every way and we are lucky to have such wonderful people working at our hospital.
8 years ago