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Student health center offers cardiac stress tests
Dr. Kathleen Sandness performs a cardiac stress test in PSU's Bryant Student Health Center.

Student health center offers cardiac stress tests

Pittsburg State University’s Bryant Student Health Center (BSHC) wants students to know that heart disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S., isn’t just a concern of older adults.

Pittsburg State University’s Bryant Student Health Center (BSHC) wants students to know that heart disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S., isn’t just a concern of older adults.

“No matter a person’s age, it’s always important to take care of your heart and understand the signs of potential issues,” said Kathleen Sandness, the physician at the health center.

One way the health center is helping students understand their heart health is through cardiopulmonary exercise testing, commonly referred to as stress tests. Rita Girth, director of operations at the BSHC, said Pittsburg State is the only four-year institution in Kansas to offer stress tests to students.

“When we built this new facility (in 2009), one of the key components that we wanted to have here was the opportunity to conduct cardiopulmonary testing,” Girth said. “It’s very important from a wellness and prevention standpoint.”

Stress tests, conducted on treadmills, test how a person’s heart responds to exertion. By monitoring the heart during physical activity, medical officials can determine whether or not there are signs of heart problems. The tests can also show how much exertion the patient’s heart can handle.

“That’s increasingly important on college campuses because many students get heavily into working out when they come to school,” Sandness said. “You also have the issue of higher obesity rates among young people, so that’s another important reason to be proactive about heart health.”

Girth said the BSHC conducts stress tests on approximately 10 students each semester. Many of the students who request the test do so because of an abnormal feeling in their chest area.

“They may feel shortness of breath or irregular heartbeats,” Girth said. “They’ll come in to see if there is an issue with their heart. If our testing shows no indication of cardiac problems, then students have the confidence and reassurance that they can safely participate in strenuous activity."

Another major benefit for students is the cost saving. A stress test at the health center costs $60, while the test conducted off campus could cost hundreds of dollars.

“It really is a great deal for the students, especially when we’re dealing with an issue as serious as heart health,” Girth said.

For more information, contact the BSHC at 620-235-4452.

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