What is a Treadmill Stress Test?
The treadmill stress test, also known as an exercise stress test or cardiac stress test, is a diagnostic test that helps determine how well your heart can handle increased physical activity. This test monitors blood pressure, heart rate, and the flow of blood through the different heart chambers.
Indications for a Treadmill Stress Test
Your physician will recommend a treadmill stress test to diagnose the following conditions:
- Coronary artery disease
- Congestive heart failure
- Congenital heart disease
- Abnormal heart rhythms
Preparation for a Treadmill Stress Test
Preparation for treadmill stress test includes the following:
- Your doctor will review your medical history and symptoms.
- Inform your doctor if you are allergic to any adhesives as adhesive patches are used to attach electrodes to your skin.
- Avoid eating or drinking water 3 hours before the test.
- Avoid applying any cream or body lotion.
- Wear loose comfortable clothing.
- Excess hair on your chest will be shaved so the electrodes can stick firmly to your chest.
- Do not stop taking medications until instructed to do so by your doctor.
- If you are using an inhaler, bring it with you for the procedure.
Treadmill Stress Test Procedure
The procedure for a treadmill stress test involves the following steps:
- Your doctor will instruct you to remove the clothing covering the upper body and change onto a gown with an open front.
- Your technician may shave some parts of the hair from the chest if needed.
- Sticky electrode patches will be attached to the chest. They contain wires that are connected to an ECG machine that records the heart’s electrical activity.
- Your technician will instruct you to walk on a treadmill and the pace is increased until you reach a target heart rate set by the technician.
- You can ask the technician to stop the test if you develop any uneasiness like shortness of breath, arm pain, fatigue, dizziness, light-headedness, or chest pain.
After a Treadmill Stress Test
After the treadmill stress test, your vital signs will be monitored for a short while to ensure there are no side effects. The whole test will take up to 60 minutes.
Risks and Complications of a Treadmill Stress Test
Some of the risks associated with treadmill stress tests include:
- Heart attack
- Chest pain
- Irregular heartbeat
- Arm pain