Treadmill Exercise Stress Test
Treadmill exercise stress test, also known as an exercise stress test is a test done to monitor your heart rate during stress such as during exercises.
A treadmill stress test helps your doctor determine whether your heart is receiving enough oxygen and sufficient blood flow during stress or exercise.
The heart pumps more blood and works more during exercise or activity. When you’re exercising or during activity, blood flow is needed the most.
During a treadmill stress test, you’ll be asked to walk or run on a treadmill while you’re attached to an electrocardiogram (ECG) machine. As you walk or run on a treadmill, your heart works progressively harder. The ECG machine monitors your heart rate while exercising. The doctor also measures your blood pressure and checks for symptoms like chest discomfort or fatigue.
Abnormalities in blood pressure, heart rate, or worsening physical symptoms could indicate that you have coronary artery disease. This disease reduces the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle as a result of fatty deposits or plaques that have accumulated in the walls of the coronary artery, thereby narrowing the artery.
Treadmill Stress Test: Purpose, and Risks
The purpose of a treadmill stress test is to help your doctor determine if your heart is receiving enough oxygen and proper blood flow during stress or exercise.
Your doctor can order a treadmill stress test if you’re experiencing chest pains or other symptoms of coronary heart disease. The test can help your doctor determine your risk of heart disease.
A treadmill stress test may also be used to help determine your cardiac health status and also used to diagnose symptoms of heart disease, especially in older people. Your doctor may also order a treadmill stress test if you are starting a new exercise program to know if your heart is healthy enough to handle the type of exercise you want to start.
Risks of treadmill stress test
Treadmill Stress tests are generally considered safe.
However, there are some risks that may occur on rare occasions. These include:
- Chest pain
- Dizziness and collapsing
- Heart attack
- Irregular heartbeat
Your risk of experiencing these complications during the test is low. This is because your doctor will first screen you for possible problems that may occur before the test to know if you’re a right candidate for the test. People who are at higher risk of these complications during the test may not be allowed to do the test.
Treadmill stress test procedure
First, a technician will place sticky patches, also known as electrodes or sensors on your chest, legs, and arms. The hair on these areas may be shaved off so that the electrodes can stick.
Several wires connect the electrodes to a computer, which records your heart’s rhythm or electrical activity. A cuff will be placed on your arm which checks your blood pressure during the test. The technician may ask you to breathe into a tube during the test to show how well you’re able to breathe during the exercise.
Treadmill Exercise You will be asked to climb and walk on a treadmill starting slowly. Your pace will be increased gradually as the test continues. Your breathing increases as your pace on the treadmill increases. You’re allowed to use the railing on the treadmill for balance but don’t hang on too tightly, as this may affect your results.
The technician will make a record of your blood pressure and breathing as you continue on the treadmill. You will continue on the treadmill until your heart rate has reached a target level or until the technician observes that you’re experiencing symptoms that can’t allow you to continue, you will be asked to stop.
After a stress test
After you stop, you may be asked to stand still for several seconds to regain your balance and then asked to lie down for a period of time while the electrodes are still attached to your skin.
The technician will monitor you for any problems as your breathing and heart rate return to normal. When your breathing returns to normal, the electrodes will be removed.
You are allowed to go back home. You can return to your normal activities unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
Heart Disease and Stress Tests
Your doctor will check the results of your heartbeats and activities. If the information gathered during the test shows your heart function to be normal, you may not need any further tests.
If the information suggests that you might have coronary artery disease or show an arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythms), your doctor will use the information to develop a treatment plan.
In some cases, the information gathered during your test may show your heart function to be normal but you still continue to experience certain symptoms or your symptoms continue to worsen. In this case, your doctor may recommend a more accurate test such as a nuclear stress test, Holter stress test, or another stress test that includes an echocardiogram before and after exercise. These tests provide more accurate information than treadmill stress tests.
Treadmill stress test speed and incline
The treadmill stress test usually starts on a low incline at a slow speed. The speed and incline is usually increased every 2–3 minutes. The speed of a treadmill stress test usually starts at 2.7 km/hr on a flat slope and increases every 3 minutes in speed and incline. The goal of a treadmill speed and incline is to get your heart working up to at least 85% of its maximum capacity
Signs you need a stress test
The signs and symptoms that you need a stress test include:
- Moderate to severe chest pain.
- Severe shortness of breath.
- Abnormally high or low blood pressure.
- An abnormal heart rhythm.
Is a treadmill test a stress test?
Yes. Treadmill stress test, also known as exercise stress test is a stress test used to monitor and evaluate the function of your heart during stress, such as during exercise.
How long do you stay on a treadmill for a stress test?
You may continue your treadmill exercise for 8-15 minutes.
How fast do you have to walk on a treadmill for a stress test?
The speed of a treadmill stress test usually starts at 2.7 km/hr and increases every 3 minutes.
How do you pass a treadmill stress test?
You pass your treadmill stress test if the information gathered after the test shows your heart function to be normal.
Can a stress test show a blockage?
The narrowing of the arteries may cause severe chest pain known as angina. A stress test can detect when arteries have a blockage.
Can you fail a stress test?
If the information gathered shows that your heart function is not normal, it means you have failed the stress test.
Do you walk or run during a stress test?
You start a stress test by walking slowly then gradually increase your pace to running. Your speed increases until the test comes to an end.
What should I avoid before a stress test?
- You may need to avoid eating and drinking anything for a period of time before your stress test.
- You may need to avoid smoking for a period of time before a stress test.
- You may need to avoid caffeine and caffeinated drinks the day before and the day of the stress test.
- There are certain medications that you may also need to avoid as taking them may interfere with your stress results. Your doctor will inform you of the medications that you should avoid.
What is a good score on a stress test?
A good score on a stress test means that your heart is functioning perfectly and the blood flow in your heart is good.