What the Heck is a Stress Test? (Medical Interpreting)

Medical interpreting is exciting because it is often unpredictable. No one appointment is the same, and interpreters often walk into their assignments without much knowledge about the matter in discussion. Even so, as part of our professionalism, we must be as prepared as we can be to ensure we are providing the best service and fulfilling our job of enabling communication between the provider and patient.  As many of you may know, we’re not always given a lot of detailed information about the appointment at hand, so what I do is take any relevant information as clues for what is to come. These can include the hospital, the doctor’s name, the age of the patient, or basic information about the type of appointment, such as a consultation or a physical. As interpreters, we should be resourceful and use what we have as the basis for our research and preparation for the appointment.

Recently, the one clue I received was “cardiac imaging,” so I read about the different types of cardiac imaging and made sure I was up to speed on the procedure and technical terms. When I arrived to the assignment, I learned that the patient was taking a  Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram. Thankfully, I knew all about it by the time of the appointment so it went smoothly.

Below is a quick summary of what the exam is about and how it works, as well, a list of terms that came up during the appointment, which I hope will be helpful to you.

Basic overview of the Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram: 

Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram is a type of stress test, which is used to evaluate the heart’s ability to respond to stress. During the test, the patient is connected to an electrocardiogram to monitor his heart rate and a blood pressure machine to monitor his blood pressure before, during, and after the heart rate reaches capacity. The goal is to see how the heart responds when it is working hard. Four sets of ultrasound images are taken throughout the process. One before the injection of the Dobutamine, two as the medication takes effect, and one after the heart rate goes back to normal when the medication loses effect. There are two ways to stimulate the heart rate: one by exercise, and one by medication. Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram the type of cardiac imaging used when the patient is unable to walk or run on the treadmill and when the medication, Dobutamine, is injected through an IV instead to simulate how the heart responds to exercise.

The difference between a Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram and a regular Stress Echocardiogram:

The process for the two is pretty much the same, except that with a regular stress echocardiogram, patients are asked to walk/run on the treadmill to help increase the heart rate. Pictures are taken before the patient walks on the treadmill, right after the heart rate reaches capacity, and after the heart rate slows down.

Keywords during a stress test: 

  1. CARDIAC IMAGING / 心臟影像檢查 (xīnzàng yǐngxiàng jiǎnchá). Stress tests are one type of cardiac imaging.
  2. DOBUTAMINE STRESS ECHOCARDIOGRAM / 多巴酚丁胺負荷超聲心動圖 (fùhè chāoshēng xīndòngtú).
  3. DOBUTAMINE / 多巴酚丁胺  (duō bā fēn dīng àn). The medication used to stimulate the heart during the exam.
  4. INTRAVENOUS INJECTION (IV) / 靜脈注射 (jìngmài zhùshè). Medication is injected using an IV.
  5. INJECTION / 注射 (zhùshè). The medication, Dobutamine, will be injected into the bloodstream using an IV.
  6. STRESS TEST / 壓力測試 (yālì cèshì).
  7. SUPERVISE / 監都 (jiāndū). Sometimes the cardiologist will supervise the test along side the technicians
  8. BRA / 內衣(nèiyī) or 胸罩 (xiōngzhào). Patients are asked to remove everything from the waist up, including their bra.
  9. WAIST-UP / 腰部以上 (yāobù yǐshàng). Patients are asked to remove clothing from the waist up and put on a waist-length patient gown.
  10. CARDIOLOGIST / 心臟科醫師 (xīnzàngkē yīshī).
  11. ECHOCARDIOGRAM TECHNICIAN OR ECHO TECH/ 超聲心動圖技術員 (chāoshēng xīndòngtú jìshùyuán).
  12. SMALL BREATH / 吸小口氣 (xī xiǎokǒu qì). The echo tech may ask the patient to take in small breaths to help her get better pictures.
  13. HOLD BREATH / 屏住呼吸 (bǐng zhù hūxī). After asking the patient to take in a small breath, the echo tech will ask the patient to hold his breath for a bit.
  14. BREATHE, EXHALE / 吐氣 (tǔqì). The echo tech will instruct the patient to breathe out once they are done taking the pictures.
  15. LIE ON THE SIDE / 側躺 (cètǎng). Patients are asked to turn to their left side when images are taken with the ultrasound machine.
  16. LIE ON THE BACK / 平躺 (píngtǎng).
  17. WAITING ROOM / 候診室 (hòuzhěnshì).
  18. ULTRASOUND / 超聲波 (chāoshēngbō).
  19. GEL / 凝膠 (níngjiāo). A gel is applied to the transducer for easy navigation.
  20. COLD / 冰冰的 (bīng bīng de). The ultrasound gel is a little cold when it touches the skin.
  21. ECHOCARDIOGRAM (EKG) / 超聲心動圖 (chāoshēng xīndòngtú). Uses sound waves to create pictures of the heart.
  22. ELECTROCARDIOGRAM (ECG or EKG) / 心電圖. Traces the electrical activity of the heart.
  23. MONITOR / 螢幕 (yíngmù). The heart rate and pictures are shown on two different monitors.
  24. DOSE / 劑量 (jìliàng). During a Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram, a patient will receive a certain number of dosages of the medication to help the heart rate reach its capacity.
  25. SERIES / 系列 (xìliè). During the stress test, four sets of pictures are taken. One taken before medication is injected, two during when the medication is taking effect, and one after the medication has lost effect.
  26. EFFECT OF THE MEDICATION / 藥效 (yào xiào). The last series of pictures are taken when the effects of the medication are gone.
  27. TREADMILL / 跑步機 (pǎobù jī).
  28. RUN / 跑步 (pǎobù).
  29. JOG / 慢跑 (mànpǎo).
  30. WALK/ 走路 (zǒulù).
  31. BLANKET / 被子 (bèizi) or 毯子 (tǎnzi). Patients are often offered warm blankets during the test in case they feel chilly,
  32. WARMER / 暖箱 (nuǎn xiāng). Some places have warmers to heat up the blankets.
  33. RESULTS / 結果 (jiéguǒ). If the cardiologist is on site, he would give the patients the results right after completion of the echocardiogram. If not, the patient will receive a call with the results.

Good luck with your assignment and happy interpreting!

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