Treadmill Exercise Stress Test
The treadmill exercise stress test is used to determine the effects of exercise on the heart. Exercise allows doctors to diagnose the presence or absence ofcoronary artery disease and to detect abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias).
- The technologist explains the procedure, takes a brief medical history, and asks the patient to sign a consent form. This form is required before the test can proceed.
- Ten adhesive electrodes are applied to the patient’s chest after the sites have been cleaned with alcohol, shaved (if necessary), and mild abrasion applied. This preparation allows for continuous electrocardiogram (ECG) recordings during the test.
- After resting blood pressure and ECG measurements are taken, the patient is asked to walk on a treadmill or pedal a stationary bicycle. On the treadmill, the walk starts off slowly, then the speed and incline increases at set times. On the bicycle, the resistance is very light to begin with but increases throughout the test.
- Because the test is effort-dependent, it is very important that the patient walks/pedals as long as possible.
- The patient’s blood pressure and ECG are monitored throughout the procedure. If a problem occurs, the technologist will stop the test right away. Cardiologists are immediately available if necessary.
- It is very important that the patient tells the technologist if he or she experiences any symptoms, such as chest pain, dizziness, unusual shortness of breath, or extreme fatigue.
- Upon completion of the test, the patient is asked to lie down. The patient’s blood pressure and ECG will continue to be monitored for five to 10 minutes.
- The test is read by a cardiologist and a report is sent to the patient’s doctor, who will discuss the results with the patient.
To help ensure accurate results, patients should take the following steps in preparation for a treadmill exercise stress test:
- Refrain from strenuous activity for 12 hours before the test.
- Do not eat, drink, or smoke for two hours prior to the test. Unless instructed otherwise by their physicians, patients should continue to take prescribed medications. Patients who have used Viagra (sildenafil citrate) within the 24 hours prior to the test, should tell the technician. It may compromise the safety of the test.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes and clothing for the test.