What is a stress test?
A stress test (also called an exercise test or treadmill test) allows a physician to understand how well a patient’s heart works during physical activity. This process also aids in the diagnosis of various heart conditions. The harder your body works during the test, the more oxygen it requires, so the heart must pump more blood. This allows physicians to see if there is a lack of blood supply in the arteries.
Who needs to take a stress test?
Your doctor may prescribe a stress test to determine:
- If you have an irregular heartbeat
- If your symptoms, such as chest pain or trouble breathing, are related to your heart
- What kind of exercise program you should begin
- If your cardiac treatments are working
What to expect during a stress test
A stress test can help your physician find valuable information on your heart and how it works. Before the test, you will be hooked up to equipment that will monitor your heart during the test. You will begin by walking slowly on a treadmill. With time, the treadmill will go faster or at an incline. This makes your body work harder during the test, so your physician can see how your heart reacts.
During the test, your physician will monitor your heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, and electrocardiogram to help determine an accurate diagnosis of your condition.