Treadmill stress test is performed to search for abnormal heart beat, decrease supply of oxygen/blood to heart, indicate coronary artery disease, detect irregular heart rhythms and overall cardiovascular conditioning of the person undergoing a treadmill stress test. Treadmill stress test is useful to screen people who desire to start an exercise regimen and help to make plans accordingly.
During a treadmill stress test, electrical activity during exercise or during physical exertion on a treadmill is recorded. Treadmill stress test mainly records the heart rate and heart rhythm while the patient is walking on a treadmill. A treadmill stress test also is known as an exercise electrocardiogram. Treadmill stress test is performed on doctor request/prescription. A treadmill stress test is very safe, reliable, non-invasive and not too expensive to do.
In a treadmill stress test the patient is connected to an electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG) machine and a blood pressure cuff is placed on the arm. Electrodes will be placed on the patient during the treadmill stress test at different locations on the arms and chest. A sensor may be attached to the finger of the patient to measure the level of oxygen in the blood during the treadmill stress test. EKG and blood pressure records will be taken before and during the treadmill stress test. Initially during the treadmill stress test the patient is made to walk on the treadmill at a slow speed. The pace of the treadmill increases and the incline is raised during the course of the treadmill stress test. The test lasts about 10-15 or sometimes 60 minutes depending upon the level of recovery and cardiovascular conditioning of the individual during the treadmill stress test.
The speed and incline of the treadmill during the treadmill stress test is increased gradually or in intervals. A Cardiologist and a technician are required to be there during the treadmill stress test. Blood pressure rates and breathing rates are recorded and measured during the test.
During the treadmill stress test the electrodes detect the electrical impulses generated by the heart, and transmit them to the ECG/EKG machine. The ECG/EKG machine produces a graph (ECG tracing) of those cardiac electrical impulses. The doctor monitors changes in ECG/EKG patterns during the treadmill stress test. Symptoms experienced by the patient during the treadmill stress test will be looked at and recorded by the doctor. If the patient feels exhausted, has chest pains or is tired then the treadmill stress test is stopped.
Treadmill stress tests help to determine if the blood and oxygen flow to the heart is sufficient when it is under an increased workload. Treadmill stress test also indicates coronary artery disease or abnormal heart rhythms during workload or exertion. Cardiac condition relating to irregular heart rhythms can be evaluated during treadmill stress test. Treadmill stress test helps doctor to see how hard the heart can work before symptoms develop, the recovery pace of the heart after exertion, and the overall level of cardiovascular conditioning. Doctors can detect the severity of coronary artery disease during the treadmill stress test. Whether or not drugs which are prescribed to treat patients are working can be also detected during the treadmill stress test.
During the treadmill stress test the purpose of increasing to higher levels of exertion in stages is because problems occur as the patient performs certain activities. During the treadmill stress test as the person starts increasing the level of exertion, the heart requires more blood and energy and if the heart doesn’t get it then there is chest pain, breathing problems or dizziness. If these symptoms appear during the treadmill stress test, then the problem is recognized and treatment is started.
Risk involved in the treadmill stress test is very small. Treadmill stress test is similar to jogging, running a flight of stairs, etc. However, treadmill stress test is required to be performed with the attendance of technician and medical staff to manage complications like sustained irregular heart beats, unrelieved chest pain, heart attack, etc. Treadmill stress test is an effective way to detect and evaluate problems relating to the heart and to follow and plan treatment depending upon the severity of symptoms detected during the treadmill stress test.