What is a treadmill stress test?
Are there any risks with the treadmill test?
How do I prepare for the treadmill stress test?
Where do I go for the test?
What happens during the test?
What happens after the test?
How do I get my results?
This test is helpful in finding out what your exercise capacity is and if you have any heart-related problems with exercise. Problems with exercise include changes on the electrocardiogram (ee-lehk-troh-KAR-dee-oh-gram), which shows the electrical conduction of your heart, chest pain, shortness of breath, or abnormal blood pressure response.
The treadmill stress test is safe. A trained technician/Doctor/Nurse supervises the test and knows how to deal with a medical emergency should it arise. Treadmill stress test results also measure the aerobic capacity of your body and are used to plan your exercise program in addition to determining any abnormalities. Aerobic capacity is how well your body takes up oxygen to produce the energy needed for activity. The measurement of aerobic capacity or oxygen uptake provides the most direct way to find out your current level of cardiovascular fitness. Your cardiovascular fitness is the efficiency of your heart and lungs in tolerating increased work without medical complications. As your body becomes more efficient at taking up oxygen from the air you breathe, your aerobic capacity improves.
To prepare for the treadmill stress test, there are several things you should do to get the best results from the test. First, have a good night's sleep before the test. Second, eat a light breakfast or lunch about two hours prior to the test. Third, avoid drinks that contain caffeine such as coffee, tea, or colas. Drink fruit juices or water instead. Fourth, take your medicine as usual unless you are told otherwise by your doctor. Fifth, bring or wear loose-fitting clothing and comfortable walking or jogging shoes. There is a place available for changing clothes. Lastly, be sure to go to the bathroom before the test so that you won't feel uncomfortable during the test.
The treadmill stress test will be done in the cardiology Wing, Oposite to the Main OT of the hospital. Please check in registration counter for further information. The test will take about 1 to 1-1/2 hours to complete.
There is a sequence of events which will happen during the test. Before you begin walking on the treadmill, a technician will obtain a brief medical history, review the test with you, and answer any questions you may have. Next, a resting electrocardiogram (EKG) is done and reviewed by the physician in charge of your test. Then, your height, weight, and a list of your medications are recorded. Electrode patches are then placed on your chest and connected to the heart monitor. You will be asked to breathe deep and fast for 20 seconds to check the E-K-G changes. Your standing blood pressure and heart rate are checked at this time.
If your aerobic capacity is to be determined, you will be asked to breathe through a small canister with one-way valves during the test to measure your oxygen uptake. Breathing through this system may seem awkward and will dry your throat, but it will not hinder your breathing. At the start of the test, the treadmill speed is set at 2 or 3 miles-per-hour and kept constant throughout the test. However, the angle of the treadmill is raised three degrees, every 3 minutes. Your heart rate and rhythm, blood pressure, and breathing are checked during each 3 minute stage while you walk. Walk as long as you can and give it your best effort. Be sure to let the technician know if you feel any discomfort during the test. If an EKG or blood pressure problem is noted, the test may be stopped.
You will be monitored for 6 to 8 minutes after the test for heart rhythm problems. Once the test is complete, you can expect to feel tired. It is best to plan a rest period after the test and not plan any tiring activities for the rest of the day.
Your doctor will be given the result of your test. You will be contacted by your doctor or a return visit may be scheduled to discuss the results. If you encounter any problems after your test, or if you have any questions, please contact your doctor's office or the clinic nurse.
A sample treadmill stress test result