Treadmill stress test

Treadmill stress test

What is the treadmill stress test?

The treadmill stress test  is a basic cardiology test that helps the doctor to see how the heart reacts to the effort. As the effort increases, the body needs more oxygen. This causes the heart to draw more blood. The test will show whether the blood supply to the arteries of the heart (coronary arteries) is reduced. It will also help the doctor to determine the type and intensity of exercise that is appropriate for each patient.

In which cases is it necessary?

The treadmill stress test is necessary:

  • For the diagnosis of coronary heart disease
  • To evaluate symptoms that are probably related to heart problems (chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness)
  • Estimate the effectiveness of previous cardiac procedures.
  • But also the medication that the patient receives for his heart.
  • Prediction of the possibility of a heart attack.
  • Assess the level of exercise that is safe for the person tested.
  • And of course in the context of a more general assessment of the patient’s health, especially in the case of a new exercise program.
What is the procedure for the treadmill stress test?

The self-adhesive electrodes are placed on the chest of the person tested and connected to an electrocardiograph. This helps to monitor the heart  rate throughout stress test.

The test is divided into 3-minute stages, with a progressively increasing speed and slope of the treadmill. In this way, the fatigue of the subject is achieved.

The process resembles the rise to a small hill. Blood pressure is measured at regular intervals while the doctor is constantly on the side of the subject. Exercise can be stopped at any time, if necessary.

At the end of the exercise, the person tested will be lying for a few minutes until the blood pressure and heart rate are restored.

What do I need to know before treadmill stress test?

The physician who will perform the test must be informed of the medical history. Prior to testing, he should be informed of possible symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath.

It is good to have an echocardiogram to rule out certain situations that can be dangerous.

The patient should receive the usual medication unless the doctor recommends stopping a drug.

You are not allowed to eat 2-3 hours before the stres test, and it is advisable to avoid smoking.

Clothes and footwear must be suitable for walking.

Is there a risk during the treadmill stres test?

The treadmill stress test is generally considered safe. This is accomplished by good patient preparation, correct medical history, full cardiac control. This results in a correct risk assessment.

But the risk is not non-existent.

Angina pectoris, fainting episodes, syncope, myocardial infarction, arrhythmias are some of the most serious complications.

Are there restrictions after the treadmill stress test?

There is no particular limitation and the person tested can continue his normal activities.

Ioannis Tzanogiorgis, Cardiologist, Athens

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