Is nuclear stress test ok for elderly mom?

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Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2008 3:26 am

Is nuclear stress test ok for elderly mom?

Postby onlyson » Thu Jan 10, 2008 4:01 am

My mom's in her eighties and was diagnosed with colon cancer last month
after a colononscopy. Her previous one three years ago showed a benign polyp which was removed.

She's going in for surgery (possibly laparoscopic) at the end of this month and needed to have her presurgical tests done. The ECG, blood workup and chest X-ray weren't a problem, but we couldn't decide as to whether to have her take the treadmill stress test or the pharmacologic stress test.
She's in very good cardiac health, and other than the colon cancer diagnosis, her main problems are anemia and anxiety/depression with panic attacks for which she takes Xanax and an anti-depressant.

I told the surgeon and his nurse that while she has no problem walking (slowly), going shopping, cleaning the apartment and doing her other daily chores, she's never really exercised and certainly has never been on a treadmill. I can't ever recall seeing her jog, although she's probably the perfect weight for her height. Due to these factors, the decision was made for her to have a pharmacologic stress test.

After subsequently reading about the possible risks of the isotopes used in these procedures, we're having second thoughts about having put her through the pharmacologic (nuclear) stress test with the isotope and adenosine. Should we have chanced a treadmill stress test with a woman in her mid-eighties? The technician at the hospital said they frequently have to stop the test and change to a pharmacologic test with elderly patients, as they have to reach a certain amount of beats per minute. A friend of mine in his early fifties told me that he didn't think she could handle the same treadmill stress test he took.

What's the usual procedure with geriatric patients? I've also heard that they sometimes use an isotope even with treadmill stress tests. All input will be greatly appreciated. My mom is a nervous woman to begin with, and the second thoughts she's having about not trying the treadmill stress test first is causing both of us to lose sleep. She's very worried that the isotopes used could worsen her condition, although these tests seem to be commonly administered, and I don't think the surgeon would have ordered it if he thought that was the case.

I've searched around the net and it's not easy to find information on pre-surgical testing for elderly patients.

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Location: Southeastern Michigan

stress test

Postby GO BLUE Girl » Thu Jan 10, 2008 11:33 pm

Onlyson, Your mother should probably be doing the pharmacological stress test. Most people at her age are unable physically to do the treadmill test. you have to be able to reach a predetermined heart rate and maintain that for a length of time(there is a protocol to determine the heart rate and time frame based on age), the test will not be diagnostic if you don't meet the parameters.
I work in an ER and we do about 2-6 stress tests each day and the majority of pt's over 70 usually can't do the treadmill. There are very few if any side effects to the meds used. They give a drug called aminophylline before the test is over to reverse any side effects of the drug used (usually Persantine and or Cardiolyte). Most of the pt's only complaint upon returning from the test is a slight headache and it seems to be from hunger related to not being able toeat the morning of the test...they feel better after lunch. If you google Persantine stress test there is a lot of info out there. Goo Luck, Beth

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