Study: Stress Tests Unnecessary

Wednesday, July 19th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CHICAGO (AP) — Stress tests are unnecessary for most people age 75 and up who want to exercise, a Yale University analysis says.

Stress tests, in which patients walk on a treadmill while doctors use imaging techniques to examine the effect on the heart, are often recommended to detect heart disease in people who want to start exercising.

But testing is costly. Also, older people often have abnormal electrocardiogram readings that reduce the accuracy of treadmill tests but are no reason to rule out exercise, the researchers said.

In most cases, regular exercise such as slow jogging or heavy gardening would only negligibly increase the risk of a heart attack, according to the study.

The findings, based on a review of several previous studies, appear in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association. The analysis was led by Dr. Thomas M. Gill of Yale's medical school.

Studies have shown that many elderly people could benefit from exercising regularly, but too few of them actually do, researchers said.

The researchers said that older people who want to exercise should consult their doctors to rule out conditions that might make working out dangerous, such as high blood pressure, heart failure and recent heart attacks.

Climbing or cycling exercises in the doctor's office are better ways to determine fitness than a stress test, the researchers said.