A stress test (also called treadmill test or exercise EKG) is given while a patient walks on a treadmill or pedals a stationary bicycle to monitor the heart during stress ir exercise. Breathing and blood pressure rates are also monitored. A stress test may be used to detect coronary artery disease, and/or to determine safe levels of exercise following a heart attack or heart surgery.
A stress test records the electrical activity of the heart, shows abnormal rhythms (arrhythmias or dysrhythmias), and detects heart muscle damage.
An ECG tracing will be taken at certain points during the test in order to compare the effects of increasing stress on the heart. Periodically, the incline and treadmill speed will be increased in order to make exercise more difficult for the person being tested.
If the person is riding a bicycle, he/she will pedal faster against increased resistance. In either circumstance, the person will exercise until reaching a target heart rate (based on age and physical status) or until unable to continue due to fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain, or other symptoms.
Why someone would be tested
The purpose of exercise testing is to determine physiologic responses of controlled exercise stress.
Clinical applications include:
Diagnostic or prognostic
Evaluation of suspected heart disease
Evaluation of asymptomatic individuals with risk of coronary heart disease