Treadmill Guides

Treadmill Stress Tests

A stress test is  primarily meant for identifying diseases of the coronary arteries. The test requires patients to perform exercises on a treadmill or an exercise bicycle while their blood pressure, heart rate, electrocardiogram (ECG), and other vital signs are monitored.

The body draws in more oxygen when exercising, than when at rest. To deliver additional oxygen during such exercises, the heart needs to pump and deliver more oxygenated blood. Because of such increased cardio activity and the resultant stress on the heart, exercises can reveal coronary related problems that are apparently not noticeable while the body is at rest. There are no two opinions about the fact that the stress test,  though not entirely perfect, is the best noninvasive and practical coronary test.

Stress tests are particularly useful to detect and diagnose ischemia or the insufficient supply of blood to the heart muscles because of blockages in the coronary arteries. The test also determines safe levels of exercise intensity and duration for people with  coronary artery disease.

There is a slight risk of  heart attack (myocardial infarction) as a result of the exercise, and also of irregular heart beats (cardiac arrhythmia angina), and even cardiac arrest (about 1 in 100,000). Statistically speaking, the odds of a heart attack are low, at around 1 in 100,000.

Trained health care professionals, having immediate access to defibrillators and other emergency equipment, carry out the test.

Generally, patients are advised and instructed to refrain from eating or smoking for several hours prior to the test. Before they take the test, they should inform their physician about any medication which they might be taking. They should wear comfortable clothing and footwear during the test.

Patients should be prepared before hand for a stress test. They should be told and educated on the purpose of the test, and be fully aware of symptoms under which the test must not be carried out further to prevent a medical mishap. The patient should inform the attending physician of any discomfort at any stage during the test.

After the test, the patient is advised to rest until the heart rate and blood pressure come back to normal. If all is well, and there are no distress signs, then the patient can return to normal every day activities.