A stress test
is done for several reasons: 1) To determine if there is any evidence of coronary heart disease; 2) to determine how much cardiac "reserve" the heart has; and 3) to determine how much, if any, the heart has been damaged.
There are two main types of stress test. One involves the patient progressively walking faster and faster until they tire. The other involves injecting the individual with a substance that speeds up the heart to "stress it" as if they had exercised very hard. In both tests, the patient is closely monitored and the test is stopped if they experience any pain or other signs/symptoms that could lead to trouble.
One of the biggest reasons for congestive heart failure
is due to coronary artery
disease. When the muscles in the heart do not receive enough oxygen
due to blockage or narrowing, spasm, or some other reason, parts or all of the muscle can die or become severely stressed. This stress can cause the heart to enlarge and lose vital pumping capacity. When this happens, congestive heart failure occurs.
There are many other reasons for congestive heart failure, but I would guess the physicians are looking for a diagnosis of coronary artery disease. If found, it's possible your father could be a candidate for coronary artery bypass surgery
to "bypass" the narrowed arteries using healthy arteries from another area of the body. This may help relieve the stressed heart and lessen his symptoms.
He should be prepared for some lifestyle changes. The doctors will have him watch his salt and fluid intake, and he will probably be on a course of cardiac medicines. It goes without saying that he will be advised to avoid high fat diets, especially those high in saturated fats. If your father is healthy enough, the physician may recommend a daily exercise routine, and he will be advised to quit smoking
immediately if he smokes.
The American Heart Association is an excellent website to get further information on CHF: http://www.americanheart.com
Scores of people live with CHF for many years and do well on their medical regimen.
I wish you and your father the best of luck.