Can Stress Be Measured?

Published: 19th October 2006
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Stress no doubt has been identified as a risk factor of heart disease, yet most of us will think that stress is something that cannot be seen or measured although some symptoms such as difficulty of falling in sleep, headache, bad temper, etc. can more or less tell whether you are in stressed!

Can stress be measured? Yes, of course. I have mentioned that two tests can be used to measure stress in my previous articles, "Do Not Overlook Stress That Can Raise Risk Of Heart Disease". But what tests are they, and how can we do it? These are questions that might have been in your mind for a while awaiting answers. As a matter of fact, the correlation between stress and health of your heart can always be measured by taking a stress test.

What is a stress test? It uses a treadmill or an exercise bike to get a person's heart working, and an electrocardiogram and blood pressure cuff to measure heart function. Nevertheless, taking stress test alone may not be sufficient.

A United States study showed that stress tests aimed at detecting blocked arteries in patients may miss more than half the case of early heart disease. The study reported that 56 percent of patients who breezed through their stress tests in fact had hardening arteries needing treatment with diet, exercise and medication.

Their findings showed that a relatively high number of patients who had normal readings on their stress tests had a calcium score of greater than 100, a score that is accepted as implying the need for aggressive medical treatment. To get the calcium score, you will need to take a calcium test.

So, what is calcium test? The test uses a quick burst of specialized X-rays called a computed tomography, or CT scan, to find evidence of plaques that block arteries. Calcium scores of zero are the best scores. Patients with calcium scores from 100 to 400 are at increase risk for cardiac events such as heart attacks, while patients with scores above 40 have the highest risk for a heart attack.

Stress test results are very important for short-term events that occur over the next couple of years, while calcium test results are important for long-term events.

Experts believed that most men over 45 and most women over 55, as well as smokers, people with high cholesterol and other risk factors should have a calcium scan.

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