AF Association
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Has anyone done a cardiac stress test while taking beta blockers?

Has anyone done a cardiac stress test while taking beta blockers?

I'm scheduled for a stress test. The receptionist told me to continue with all daily medication and just show up. However, I currently take a beta blocker and find it hard to get my heart rate above about 110 bpm, even going full speed on an exercise machine. They may need to throw me out of an airplane blindfolded in order to get to the target heart rate. Has anyone else had a stress test while taking beta blockers?

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Yes me. My heart rate took ages to get up to speed and they nearly didnt do it as my blood pressure was 85/58 but in the event they let me continue as I felt fine and the stress test told them what they wanted to know ie that I didnt have heart disease but the flecanide was causing broadening of the QS complex. Good luck with the test. It is nthing to worry about. X

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It has always made me nervous since my first episode of AF was triggered by a stress test. They got my heart rate up to 185 and kept me there for 10 minutes. The next day, I went into AF. I was on a flight to Brazil when it started, and the AF lasted (off and on) for the entire week I was in Sao Paolo.

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Interesting reply from dedeottie re QS complex. I saw my cardiologist on Friday for a check up after 9 months on just Flecainide for 30 months now without problems and out of the blue he suggested going on the treadmill, he didn't say why and I should have evidently questioned him more - I will email him now.

Back in 2014 the treadmill was one of the tests and they didn't get me quite to the level they wanted as I didn't feel comfortable, not least because at the last minute getting ready to start they asked me to sign a disclaimer. I veto some of the tests unless I am told very clearly an essential reason.

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I think the question you need to ask is why you are doing a stress test, whilst under medication. For a Stress test to be of any real benefit, it requires to be done under normal conditions. A cardiologist would require to tell you whether your condition can stand being off meds or whether you need to stay on. Generally, prior to test, you come off meds 48 hours before you do test, but again, that is under qualified medical advice, not a receptionist telling you to turn up. I run a medical,company, but am not clinically qualified. Check with your doctor..

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It depends why the test is being done. In my case it was to see if flecanide and bisoprolol were affecting my heart at higher heart rates. They found that indeed th flecanide was broadening the QS complex so had to reduce the dose. X

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Yes I had mine on meds, highest my heart rate went was 111; Didnt seem to b a problem for the doc but I felt horrible when they gave me the injection.

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Had a stress test but didnt take my bisoprosol or flecanide from the day before i.e. 24hr without bisorprosol, although it does not flush out of the system that quickly. Having said that my stress test was with the use of medication an injection to raise the heart rate, they used the maxm dose in the end, gradually of course, and had me running and jumping on the spot and my heart rate only got to 135 (I am 46), so they were only at about 75 max heart rate, which was not ideal as they would rather get it to 85%, but none the less the cardiologist seemed ok with it.

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I wanted to ask is that your picture? if it is that is inspiring THANK YOU, as since I had my first / and second episode of AF I feel like a cat in headlights. I can feel my heart beat which my doctor says is effectively heightened anxiety and I find myself checking my pulse and pressure regularly, and now when i get stressed I have cold hands and feet, which subside when i relax, no fun.

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in US told to stop beta blocker for one day

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Thomps95 I was told by my cardiologist in the US to stay on 100mg Atenolol because my BP had been very high until the dosage of it was doubled from 50mg a few weeks before. I had the chemical stress test due to an arthritic knee and it didn't take much to raise my pulse to 200. I was instantly out of breath and gasping for air. I have since seen an EP and am about to be scheduled for a cryoablation. I have paroxysmal AFib, that is getting more frequent. I take Flecainide 100 mg twice a day, which I don't like and Losartan Hctz 100mg as well as the Atenolol. I am quite anemic, so am not on a blood thinner yet, but will have to be to have the ablation. I am nervous and stressed out over all of this. That was my first stress test and I think my Afib has been much worse since I had it. I would have been much more comfortable if I had been allowed to do the treadmill, I think you'll do fine.

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Thanks for asking this question. I did not know about it, and I have it mentally filed under: do more research if ever asked.

Even for those of us off medicine most of the time and taking PIP I would now question a stress test.

1. It is well known that those who have had AF have to be more careful about physical workouts.

2. My experience shows that when I know I will have a 'hard day' then I have to pace it. The first hour is slowly warming up (not the first 5-15 minutes) and only in the middle, I can permit some real exercise, and that when I have had enough to eat! If I overdo it, ie the day is too long, then AF might restart.

3. This summer I went to the lower alps. The first week was hard -- like in the days of AF. Slowly I built up stamina. After 10days I was at 70% of previous form. I was able to have a faster start in the morning, and cope with hills. I was even able to gasp for breath at a few points and not trigger AF.

My experience of the stress test in hospital is that the stressing happened too quickly. The speed of walking forced me to do jogging, which I cannot do naturally -- some of us have mainly slow muscle. Anyway, we cannot rewrite their methods, but a fairer test for me would be to send me on a brisk walk that lasted at least two hours, then do a test on something that mimicked the natural stress of walking uphill, asking me to pace it.

Thanks for raising the question

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ILowe You are correct the hospital stress test attempts to raise your heart rate too quickly that is ridiculous and foolhardy as it puts you at risk. It is like driving your car by "burning rubber" to start and then screeching to a short stop after going 80 mph. A good way to destroy your transmission. So, if you think of your heart like your body's transmission, why would you do this to it? When I work out at the gym, I work easily at first to warm up. Also, you are aerobically fit it will take longer for your heart rate to increase. Thias is evidence of good health. So I don't do stress tests. While on a recumbant bike at the gym one of our friends came up behind me and asked if my heart rate wasn't too low. I told him thqat was a short question with a big answer, did he really want to know?? He said yes and I began exdsplaining the whole afib/ablation thing. He had not much idea what I was talking about .

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Thankyou for taking the time to explain. I really appreciate that. You have confirmed what I suspected: some people, their muscles/body are made for sprint style exercise. Some are made for endurance. I discovered that at school, cross country for one mile and I was the last in the school. Cross country for 5 miles and I could come in the middle. I was labelled as almost hopeless at sport. Then I discovered rowing, and longer distances in swimming.

First thing in the morning I can barely cope with the stress of walking up flights of steps. Later on, after some enthusiastic teaching, even though tired, I can cope. I need a warm in of over an hour. I guess this rings true.

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Thomson65 Is that you sky diviing? I have found that the only way I can get my heart rate high is to either walk on an high slant treadmill, or uphill; lift heavy weights at the gym ; or run up the 18 steps to my apartment while carrying 20 pound back of groceries. On these occassions my heart rate goes to 156, which is the maximum for my 68 years; when i slow down--or get to the top of the steps or hill--the rate immediately goes to 93 and after 2 minutes back to 72-- this is good heart rate variability and very strong and healthy. TRUE--it is hard to get your heart rate up with beta blockers.Sotalol 40 mg twice a day, which I take, is a very low dose and is part beta blocker and part anti arrhythmic drug. Whatever you are taking may possibly be stronger.

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No that wasn't me!

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Thonps95 good I don't think it is good for afib My husband wanted to go sky diving and shark cage touring in South Africa with me, but I talked him out of it. I thought it would be interesting and exciting, but not a good idea.

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I just had a nuclear stress test and wasn't told not to take metoprolol 25 mg before the test so took it in a.m. I had also taken Advil for arthritis, as well as 300 mg of gabapentin the night before for neuropathy. I was not told not to take my meds. After the test I had a severe reaction after they put the medicine in me. I had to lay in office for 4 hours and was still nauseated, dizzy and with extreme headache, diarrhea, afterward. I had never had such a bad headache on top of my head, it was the most extreme pain. They tried to get me to drink coffee which over a period of a few hours I could because of the severe nausea. They said they had not seen that reaction before but did not tell me it could have been the combo of meds, I am not sure if it was but I will never do the test again. They had to let me go as they were closing and I was still dizzy but the headache had mostly subsided by then. Has anyone ever heard of this? Was it due to the med combo or an allergic reaction? Any info I can have please let me know. I will see the doc for f.u. next week.

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How did it go? And was it worth it? I can't take beta blockers as the lowest dosage taken daily brings my heart beat down too low. I've just received notice to have a "myocardial perfusion with stress" test and hadn't realised that it involves being injected with a radioactive tracer which had not been mentioned by the cardiologist whom I saw briefly! The bumf that came with the letter from the Nuclear Medicine Dept (quite a shock that!) mentions a list of medicines that you should not take for varying times before but all I'm taking is an anticoagulant which isn't mentioned. Surely you would have got something like that. Cough medicine couldn't be taken for 12 hours before!

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It was fine in the end. I just made it clear I wanted to increase slowly and stop at 80% of max. Was a non-event

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