Stress tests may be particularly effective for women. Because they don't use radiation, they can be safely used for women who may be pregnant. A recent study by researchers at St. Luke's–Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City found that stress echocardiogramsa pair of echocardiograms administered before and after exercisewere highly effective in stratifying women into high-risk and low-risk groups for coronary artery disease.
Doctors may also take pictures of your heart before and after exercising by performing a nuclear stress test. "You use an imaging agent, inject it into the patient, and then they go under the camera before and after you put them on the treadmill," explains Jennifer Mieres, MD, director of nuclear cardiology at the New York University School of Medicine. If a patient has blockage of the blood flow to the heart or if they've had a heart attack in the past, it will show up," says Mieres. Nuclear stress tests are 90% accurate, compared with exercise stress tests, which are about 75% accurate for men and just over 60% accurate for women. When it's appropriate, Mieres prefers to use nuclear stress tests for women.