A treadmill exercise stress test is used to determine the effects of exercise on the heart. Exercise allows doctors to detect abnormal heart rhythms and diagnose the signs or symptoms of coronary artery diseases.
A few sticky patches called electrodes are placed on your chest which are attached to an ECG monitor that follows the electrical activity of your heart during the test.
You will walk on a treadmill or pedal on an exercise bicycle while your heart rhythm, blood pressure and breathing are monitored. While you perform the exercise, the activity of your heart and blood pressure readings are taken.
Your doctor may recommend a stress test if you have signs or symptoms of coronary disease or an irregular heart rhythm.
Why it’s done:
Your doctor may recommend a stress test to:
· Diagnose coronary artery disease.
· Diagnose heart rhythm problems.
· Guide treatment of heart disorders.
· Determine the timing of cardiac surgery.
Your doctor may recommend a test with imaging, such as a nuclear test or echocardiographic stress test, if an exercise stress test doesn’t pinpoint the cause of your symptoms.
A stress test is generally safe and complications are rare. But, as with any medical procedure, there is a risk or complications including:
· Strain on heart(usually temporary)
· Abnormal heart rhythms
· Low Blood pressure
How you prepare:
Food and Medications:
You may be asked not to eat, drink or smoke before a stress test. Strictly, caffeine should be avoided the day before and during the day of the test.
Ask your doctor if it’s safe to continue with the prescription and non-prescriptive medications before the test, because they might interfere with certain stress test.
If you are suffering from asthma or other respiratory disease, make sure to carry the inhaler to the test so that your doctor can monitor your stress test knowing that you use an inhaler.
What you can expect:
Your stress test will take around an hour, including both prep time and the actual test time. The actual test takes only around 15 minutes wherein you have to walk on a treadmill or pedal a stationary bicycle. If you aren’t able to exercise, you’ll receive a drug through intravenous that mimics exercise by increasing blood flow to your heart.
Before a stress test:
First, your doctor will ask you questions regarding your medical history and how often you exercise. This helps in determining how much amount of exercise is needed during the test. Your doctor will also monitor to your heart or lungs abnormalities that might affect your test results.
If the exercise stress test report suggests normal functioning of your heart, you may not need any further tests.
However, if the results are normal and your symptoms continue to worsen, your doctor might opt for a nuclear stress test which is more accurate and provide more information about your heart function, but they are also more expensive.
If your stress test results reveal any coronary heart disease or an abnormal heart rhythm, the doctor can develop the treatment plan for the same.
If you had a stress test to help determine treatment for health condition, your doctor will use the results to plan or change your treatment.
To sum it up, treadmill exercise stress test are safe and help in early diagnosis of heart problem and it also determines how much of activity is safe for a patient.