Is it reasonable to reach a heart rate of 166 in a nuclear stress test?

As a 70 year old male, I was given a nuclear stress test to a maximum of 166 heartbeats per minute. Is this a reasonable number for such testing?

Submitted by Roger from New York on 04/18/2017

by Warren H. Moore, MD

Heart rate alone is not the only measure for a cardiac stress test. In addition to the heart rate, other factors such as whether this was exercise or pharmacological stress, the length of the test (for exercise), symptoms you had, findings on the EKG portion of the test, and estimated oxygen consumption all contribute to the assessment of adequacy of the test.

Because it is easy to determine and because we have over 50 years of experience with this measure, heart rate (often noted as a percentage of the maximum heart rate predicted for your age (MPHR)) is the most commonly used criterion. Your heart rate with stress (166) is greater than that predicted for your age and would generally be considered more than adequate. If, however, this was an exercise test and you reached the maximum heart rate in less than 3 minutes, the other factors might indicate that the test was “suboptimal.”