Exercise Stress ECG Test
What is it?
Exercise stress testing is a test that your Cardiologist/Doctor uses to assess the likelihood there are blockages in your heart arteries. The test also assesses your fitness. Exercise stress testing is sometimes called an exercise tolerance test, stress test, exercise ECG, or treadmill test.
Do not eat or drink for 2 hours before the test. Also, ask your doctor about whether you should withhold any of your medicines as some can affect the accuracy of this test.
All patients attending our clinics are treated with the utmost respect. Many of our testing procedures require patients to undress. A curtained area in the procedure room is available for patients to change in private. During procedures patient contact is unavoidable and this will be explained to you as your test progresses e.g. the need to place electrodes, or the application of the gel and ultrasound probe to examine your heart.
If you would prefer to have a female technologist and/or cardiologist for religious or personal reasons we will comply whenever possible. Please discuss this with our staff when making our appointment.
We always prioritize our patient's feelings and personal needs before practicality in the procedure room providing there is no potential compromise of patient safety.
What should I expect?
A technician will attach stick-on ECG electrodes to your chest after cleaning these areas with alcohol. The alcohol may feel cold. These electrodes attach to an ECG machine, which records your heart's electrical activity. You will also wear a blood pressure cuff around your arm, which measures your blood pressure during the test. Before the test, the technician will record your blood pressure and pulse. They will also record your heart's electrical activity with an ECG before you start exercising.
During the test, you will walk on a treadmill. The grade and speed will increase every 2-3 minutes. This will make you feel like you are walking uphill. You should exercise for as long as possible to maximise the workload on the heart and ensure your test is as accurate as possible.
Your Cardiologist will look for changes in the ECG and blood pressure levels which may indicate that your heart is not getting enough oxygen because of blockages in your heart arteries. Other signs of angina include chest pain or excessive shortness of breath whilst you are exercising.
Complications are very rare but include a risk of heart attack (1 in 1000 patients) and risk of death (1 in 10,000 patients).
At the end of the test, your doctor will give you a cool-down phase where you may lie down or sit quietly. After the test is over, you may eat, drink and go back to your normal activities. You may take the results with you; otherwise they are posted to your referring doctor on the same day.