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Test Reveals How Your Heart Responds to Exertion

Updated: Jan 14, 2020

Test Reveals How Your Heart Responds to Exertion

Exercise stress test at Ochiltree General Hospital a useful tool in detecting coronary artery disease

When it comes to detecting and treating heart disease before complications become serious, performance stress testing at Ochiltree General Hospital could ultimately make the difference between life and death.

“A stress test gives us a unique look into how effectively your heart operates during physical exertion,” explains Dr. Jennifer McGaughy, a family practice physician in Perryton. “The data obtained gives physicians key insights when diagnosing heart-related conditions or developing a comprehensive treatment plan following procedures done to improve coronary artery circulation in patients.”

Coronary artery disease involves the buildup of plaque in artery walls or the inner lining of the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart. Arteriosclerosis, which involves the hardening or stiffening of the arteries, is a common form of heart disease and a major cause of illness and death.

The stress-test tool that OGH uses provides physicians with detailed information on how the heart is functioning.

During exams, patients have wires attached to small pads placed on various parts of the chest and abdomen. To increase the heart rate, patients are monitored by their physicians while exercising on a treadmill. Important data are measured and recorded throughout the exercise period.

“With a multifaceted approach, the data that we collect, such as blood pressure and pulse rates, allow us to better understand at what point your heart is pushed into overload,” Dr. McGaughy says. “Based on the results, we can either treat the condition or, in more serious cases, refer patients to a cardiologist.”

According to Dr. McGaughy, an exercise stress test is not limited to any one type of patient. In fact, for many people over the age of 40, a stress test is considered a basic part of yearly physicals and is covered by most insurance plans.

Health-conscious people frequently undergo this type of test to determine their fitness level before embarking on new aerobic exercise programs. To make exercise as beneficial as possible, they should know their target heart rate and need to be sure that their hearts are healthy enough to withstand strenuous exercise. The stress test provides both medical providers and patients with answers to both these questions.

Individuals with advanced stages of arthritis or other limiting physical conditions may not be able to complete an exercise stress tests. In these cases, physicians may order an alternative screening method, in which medication is used to increase the heart rate.

For more information about cardiac stress testing, please contact your local primary care provider, or call the OGH radiology department at 806-648-7121.

About Ochiltree General Hospital Ochiltree General Hospital provides healthcare for residents of Ochiltree County. Founded in 1967, the hospital is a 25-bed healthcare facility that offers a wealth of medical services, including 24-hour emergency care, advanced radiology services (including CT scanning and MRIs), an outpatient lab, surgical services, physical rehabilitation, assisted living, CrossRoads, home health and hospice services, and more. For additional information, please visit

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