What Is Treadmill Stress Test?
Resting EKG may not always reveal the coronary artery blockages. In this case, symptoms and signs of heart disease may be revealed by exposing the heart to the stress of exercise. During the exercise, narrowed arteries end up supplying reduced flow to the heart. This reduced flow causes the involved muscle to starve, producing symptoms such as:
Most commonly, a motorized treadmill or a stationary bicycle is used for this procedure.
- chest discomfort
- shortness of breath
- characteristic abnormalities on the EKG
This test, called the Treadmill Stress Test, will help us evaluate your cardiac condition related to:
- Irregular heart rhythms
- Decreased supply of blood and oxygen to the heart
- Amount of work the heart can perform before symptoms develop
- Amount of time it takes the heart to recover after exercise
- Your overall level of cardiovascular conditioning
- Exercise target heart rate (THR)
What Preparation Is Needed?
Please follow these precautions before coming to a Treadmill Stress Test:
- Do not eat or drink anything except water four hours prior to test.
- No caffeine or smoking at least 4 hours prior to test.
- If you are taking any medications, please consult us about the following:
- How to adjust insulin and food intake prior to the test.
- Whether to take your regular medications the morning of the test.
- If you are taking Beta Blockers, ask us whether you can stop the medication for 72 hours before coming to a procedure (as recommended).
- Do not apply lotions, oils or powders to the chest area.
- Wear comfortable clothing (shorts or pants with shirt or blouse) and walking or jogging shoes.
How Treadmill Stress Test Is Performed?
A Treadmill Stress Test records the heart's electrical activity (rate and rhythm) during exercise. The procedure consists of the following steps:
- Electrodes will be placed on the chest (like in an electrocardiogram ).
- The patient will be asked to walk on a motorized treadmill.
- The speed and incline of the treadmill will be gradually increased.
- EKG is constantly displayed on the monitor and is recorded on paper at one minute intervals.
- We will be looking for changes in the EKG pattern and any symptoms that the patient may experience, such as:
- Changes to the heart rate
- Changes in blood pressure
- Changes in the EKG pattern
- Irregular heart rhythm
- Change in your appearance
- Other symptoms
- You may be on the treadmill for up to 15 minutes, depending upon
- Your level of recovery
- Your cardiovascular conditioning
- The test will be stopped if:
- You achieve a target heart rate
- You become too tired
- You experience chest pain or shortness of breath
- You feel dizzy
- You develop unsteady gait
- EKG shows alarming changes
- You heartbeat becomes seriously irregular
- Your blood pressure rises or falls beyond acceptable limits
- The test will last about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
The risk of the stress test is very small. It is similar to what you would expect from any strenuous form of exercise such as:
We will be with you to manage the rare complications like:
- jogging in your neighborhood
- running up a flight of stairs
- sustained irregular heartbeat
- unrelieved chest pain
- heart attack
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Consider an Exercise Stress Test
This article provides a basic level introduction into a treadmill stress test. It is well structured, organized into practical categories such as purpose, preparation, advantages/disadvantages, etc. The article also contains helpful illustrations.
Exercise Stress Test
American Heart Association provides a brief description of the regular exercise stress test. It also discusses steps involved in performing the procedure.