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Understanding Heart Disease and Cardiac Stress Tests

The battle against heart disease continues; BCH is here to help

Article Courtesy of Boundary Community Hospital


Boundary-Community-Hospital

Heart disease is a pervasive and devastating health issue in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is the leading cause of death for men, women and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the country. The statistics are staggering, with one person dying from cardiovascular disease every 33 seconds, resulting in about 695,000 heart disease-related deaths in 2021. Moreover, heart disease imposes a significant financial burden, costing the U.S. approximately $239.9 billion each year. Coronary heart disease, a common type of heart disease, claimed the lives of 375,476 people in 2021.


Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most prevalent form of heart disease, affecting about 5 percent of adults aged 20 and older. Surprisingly, in 2021, about two in 10 CAD-related deaths occurred in adults younger than 65 years old. This underscores the importance of early awareness and intervention.


Recognizing the signs and symptoms of a heart attack is crucial, given that someone in the U.S. experiences a heart attack every 40 seconds. Every year, approximately 805,000 people suffer a heart attack, with 605,000 being their first heart attack and 200,000 occurring in individuals who have already experienced a heart attack. Alarmingly, about one in five heart attacks are "silent," causing damage without the individual realizing it.

Cardiac stress tests, also known as exercise stress tests, play a vital role in assessing heart health. This medical procedure evaluates how well a patient's heart functions during physical activity. It involves treadmill walking or stationary bike riding while monitoring heart rate, blood pressure and the electrocardiogram (ECG). The primary aim of a cardiac stress test is to detect any abnormalities or conditions affecting the heart's performance. It aids in diagnosing coronary artery disease, heart rhythm problems and heart valve disease. Furthermore, it assesses the heart's response to stress and exercise, evaluates the presence of blockages in the heart's blood vessels, and determines the effectiveness of treatments for heart-related conditions.


Patients experiencing symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath or fatigue that could be related to heart issues may be candidates for cardiac stress tests. They are also used to assess the risk of future heart attacks and determine an individual's fitness level for specific activities.


While cardiac stress tests are generally safe, there are potential risks to consider. These include: temporary abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias), chest pain or discomfort, blood pressure changes and, in extremely rare circumstances, heart attack or other cardiac events may occur—especially for individuals with existing heart conditions or those at high risk for heart disease.


Understanding the prevalence of heart disease in the U.S. and the importance of early intervention is crucial. Cardiac stress tests serve as a valuable diagnostic tool, allowing health care professionals to assess heart health and make informed decisions about treatment and prevention. While there are minimal risks associated with these tests, the benefits far outweigh the potential drawbacks.


The battle against heart disease continues, with an emphasis on early detection and intervention. As health care providers and individuals work together to raise awareness and promote heart health, Boundary Community Hospital (BCH) is committed to offering a comprehensive range of cardiology procedures to serve our community. These services include Event Monitors, Holter Monitors (ranging from 24 hours to 14 days), 12 Lead ECG/EKG with Interpretation, and Echocardiograms (both Complete and Limited). These advanced diagnostic tools play a crucial role in the fight against this leading cause of death in the U.S., enabling timely and accurate assessments of heart health and contributing to better patient outcomes.


For more information, visit BoundaryCommunityHospital.org/cardiopulmonary or call the Cardiopulmonary phone line at 208.267.3141 ext. 4283. 

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