DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My doctor insists I have a “no exercise” nuclear stress test. What is the procedure? Could it harm my heart? I think I might get halfway through the test and need to have it stopped. Are there lessintrusive tests that would suffice? I am 82. Please give me a second opinion. – D.G.
ANSWER: Your doctor wants you to have a pharmacologic stress test, a no-sweat stress test.
An ordinary stress test is done with the patient on a treadmill. Every three minutes, the speed of the treadmill and its incline increase. At first the person walks at an ordinary clip on a flat surface. After some time, that person is walking, then jogging, then running on a surface that becomes steeper and steeper. The idea is to “stress” the heart. During the test, an EKG is constantly running. If the heart muscle isn’t getting enough blood to support the increased work, changes occur on the EKG and the test is stopped.
Your test will be quite different. You don’t move a muscle. You are given an injection of medicine that stresses your heart in ways completely different from exercise. During the test you don’t do a thing. You scarcely know that anything is happening. You don’t become short of breath, sweaty or tired.
The nuclear part of the test is the taking of pictures of your heart after an injection of a small dose of radioactive material is given. The pictures show if there is any blockage in heart arteries, and if so, where the blockage is. Pictures are taken at the end of the test and four hours later, when the heart has returned to its resting state.
This test doesn’t put you in danger. If anything bad develops – and it rarely does – the test can be terminated immediately. There are no less-intrusive tests that can substitute for it. This isn’t considered an invasive procedure. Relax. You’ll do fine.
The coronary (heart) artery disease booklet describes how this condition is diagnosed and treated. Readers can obtain a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue – No. 101W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6.75 Canada. with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: About a month ago, while doing sit-ups, I felt something pop in the area around my bellybutton, and I saw a little bulge there. It’s soft and doesn’t hurt. Is this a hernia? – R.B.
ANSWER: It could be an umbilical hernia. The umbilicus is the navel or bellybutton, whatever you want to call it. It’s the place where the umbilical cord attached to the fetus. For some, it’s a weak spot in the abdominal wall.
A hernia is a protrusion of organs or tissues through such a weak spot.
You should have a doctor examine this for a definite call.
If it is a hernia, it probably would have developed whether you were doing sit-ups or doing anything else that increases pressure within the abdominal cavity. The sit-ups didn’t create the weak spot. It’s been there from birth.
Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL32853-6475.
©2007 North America Synd., Inc.