A stress test, also known as an exercise test or treadmill test, can give an idea of how well a person’s heart works during physical activity. It can also help diagnose various heart conditions.
A stress test typically involves walking or running on a treadmill or using a stationary cycle while medical devices monitor breathing, blood pressure, heart rate, and heart rhythm.
Some people, such as those with arthritis, may not be able to do the activities involved in an exercise stress test. Instead, a doctor will give these people a drug to make their heart work harder, as it might during exercise. Usually, sticky electrodes are attached to the person’s chest to monitor the heart, and the doctor will take some base readings. The patient is then required to walk on the treadmill with incremental increase in the speed and incline. Readings such as heart rate, breathing, EKG readings are noted again and the treadmill will then stop and the patient will be asked to lie down and their blood pressure will be measured.
What might the results show?
- normal blood flow during exercise and rest
- normal blood flow when resting but not during exercise, possibly indicating a blocked artery
- low blood flow when exercising and resting, suggesting coronary artery disease
- no dye in some parts of the heart, implying tissue damage
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