Exercise Treadmill Test (stress test)
What is an Exercise Treadmill Test?
An exercise treadmill test is done so your doctor can assess how your heart responds to strenuous exercise. As your body works harder it requires more oxygen, making the heart pump more blood. This test can show if you have a reduced blood supply to the heart due to narrowing or blockage of the arteries. During the test, you will be hooked up to an electrocardiogram to monitor your heart’s electrical activity during the entire procedure. You’ll also have a blood pressure cuff to monitor your blood pressure. A treadmill test is also a good indicator of your overall physical fitness and may be done prior to starting an exercise program.
Why an Exercise Treadmill Test?
Your cardiologist may recommend this test for the following reasons:
- To diagnose coronary artery disease.
- To diagnose the cause for chest pain, shortness of breath or dizziness.
- To help predict your risk of a heart attack or other cardiac conditions.
- To guide treatment recommendations.
- To determine a safe exercise level.
Exercise Treadmill Test Potential Risks and Complications
Healthy people are at very little risk during an exercise treadmill test. Complications are rare, but you may have the following:
- Chest pain.
- Severe shortness of breath.
- Dizziness or feeling faint.
- Abnormal high or low blood pressure.
- Abnormal heart rhythms.
Preparing for an Exercise Treadmill Test
Your doctor will give you instructions on how to prepare for the test that may include:
What to Expect
What to Expect During an Exercise Treadmill Test
During an Exercise Treadmill Test
Here’s what to expect during the exercise treadmill test:
- You will be hooked up to the electrocardiogram (ECG) with electrodes on your chest, legs and arms.
- Your vital signs will be taken, including blood pressure, heart rate and a baseline ECG.
- If you cannot exercise, your doctor will inject a medication that increases blood flow to your heart.
- Once on the treadmill, or stationary bike, you will progressively increase your walking speed until you reach your safe and targeted heart rate or until you develop symptoms that don’t allow you to go on. You can stop at any time.
- Be sure to let the technician know if you have discomfort or other symptoms. You can stop the procedure any time.
- The entire procedure from set up to conclusion to take about one hour, but the exercise period usually last 10 to 15 minutes.
After an Exercise Treadmill Test
You may return to your normal activities unless told otherwise. Based on the results, your cardiologist may recommend further testing.