Advice from the BP Measurement Experts
Cardiac stress testing is commonly used to gauge how well the heart works and to identify if a patient is at risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). During a cardiac stress test a patient walks on a treadmill or rides a stationary bike. As exercise intensity increases, the heart has to pump harder and use more oxygen. This mimics the strain placed on the heart when arteries are blocked or narrowed. Several parameters are monitored during the stress test including ECG waveforms, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation.
The most widely-used cardiac stress testing methodology is the Bruce protocol. The protocol consists of a series of seven, 3-minute stages where the speed and incline of the treadmill increase in each segment. Patients are stopped when they reach their expected maximum heart rate with most patients not progressing past stage 3 or 4. During cardiac stress testing a blood pressure measurement is typically initiated at two minutes in to each stage. With the major role that blood pressure measurement plays in cardiac stress testing, accurate BP readings are critical to accurate diagnosis.
While manual blood pressure measurement is still widely accepted for stress testing, there are several disadvantages to using the manual technique.
One solution to the disadvantages of manual BP measurement during testing is the use of an automated BP monitor specifically designed for cardiac stress testing. These BP monitors are designed with settings for both duration and frequency to improve the accuracy of BP measurements. Using an automated BP monitor also eliminates inter-observer variability. Finally, when the stress tech needs to focus on a patient in a crisis situation, the automated BP monitor is able to acquire BP readings which aids in assessing a patient's overall condition. Every stress lab needs this capability in my opinion!
Do you have a story of how this technology has helped your stress lab in a crisis situation or how it would have helped? We would love to hear about it!