In March of 2011, three nurses at Kearney County Health Services received training on the hospital’s newest Cardiac Stress Test equipment.
The equipment is used to diagnose heart problems in patients whose hearts function improperly under strain.
Doctors may recommend stress tests for patients who come in to the clinic complaining of symptoms that may reflect a malfunction in the heart and the new equipment can indicate a leak or blockage as the heart rate is elevated.
If the patient is unable to walk on the treadmill, the heart rate can be raised medically while the patient is lying down.
The equipment is not able to locate an arterial blockage, but if one is shown in the test results, a doctor can thread a catheter into the arteries to find the blockage.
The equipment can also show if the heart is skipping beats or beating irregularly. The monitors produce a printout reading of the heart’s activity throughout the test and trained nurses are present whenever a patient is being tested.
In addition, the hospital requires a doctor to be in the building in case of a major complication.
The patient begins on a treadmill, stationary bike or bicycle-like hand crank. The difficulty is slowly increased as the attending nurse or physician watched the symptoms as well as blood pressure response on the monitor.
A second, less common version of the test involves injecting a radiotracer into the blood stream during the test. After a suitable amount of time for distribution, photos are taken with a gamma camera to capture images of blood flow.
According to recent studies, the test identified 73 to 90 percent of patients who had a heart condition, and produced 50 to 74 percent specificity.
As well as being used for stress testing, Dr. Kutty, a cardiologist from Kearney, uses the machine for stress echocardiography when he is at KCHS.
The stress test equipment is currently located with the cardiac rehab equipment on the southeast side of the hospital. The treadmill and monitor are in a small room with two stationary bikes, another treadmill, a hospital bed for medicinal testing and a desk for the attending nurse. But the entire section is soon to be on the move.
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