Oct 16, 2006

October 4 - Stress Test

After my 15 miler a few weeks ago, I had an incidence of chest pain. I didn't think anything of it, because it felt to me like windpipe irritation. Still, a reader of my weblog who happens to be an internist from iowa read my description of the run and said that I should really see a specialist for a cardio-vascular stress test before doing any more long slow distance runs. I took his advice.

I first had togo to my normal clinic - mahwah medical- where a nurse-practitioner administered an EKG and a PFD. Everything looked normal to better-than-normal, and she complimented me on my very-low resting heart rate - below 60. That was about two weeks ago (before October 4). She then told me, "Now you're going to think I'm crazy, but I'm going to refer you to a cardiologist just to be safe, so you can get a stress test." I basically told her that was why I was there, and got an appointment.

Fast forward to Oct 4th, and I'm sitting in an examination room of hudson heart associates. the cardiologist walks in and the first thing she says to me is "steve, you're 30 years old. What the hell are you doing in my office?" SO I explained the situation, and after she palpated the hell out of me, I headed for the treadmill.

The treadmill test was kind of fun. It is basically an EKG while you're running. After determining that she didn't need to shave me (heh), the nurse attached about a dozen probes to my chest and told me that I need to go to 85% of my theoretical maximum heart rate, but I can go as long as I want after that. Basically, the treadmill starts out slow and gets increasingly harder every 4 minutes by speeding up and elevating the incline. The first stage was a total piece of cake. I made it to 85% in stage 3, powered through stage 4, and started stage 5 (5mph, 18%) before telling her to stop the test. I forgot to ask if I was made it to 100%.

The doc then came in, looked at the results, and declared me conditionally safe for long runs (surprise!), but then said that I really oughta get an electrocardiogram just to be 100% safe, and - wasn't it my lucky day - the machine happened to be free.

That was kind of neat. During my wife's pregnancy, they used an identical machine to look at the baby during the ultrasound. This was the same exact thing, but they call it an electrocardiogram. I got to see my own beating heart on the monitor, and watched them make measurements. It was pretty wild.

So then the cardiologist came back, looked at the machine, declared me healthy, and sent me on my way.