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Are Treadmill Stress Tests Safe?

Treadmill Running

By Simon Gould

A stress test is done to diagnose whether you have coronary artery disease (CAD) or other heart problems. It does this by having the person taking the test walk on a treadmill. The physician over seeing the test will then have you walk faster and at an incline. There are pads on the chest to help measure the electrical signals from the heart as you undertake the test.

They have a good safety record

The tests are safe but shouldn't be performed by yourself. They are done with a medical person with you who can analyze the data as you walk. They are usually performed on older people or people who are about to begin a vigorous exercise program. There are several diagnostic features that a medic is looking for during a test.

The reason a treadmill is used is because you're not moving from the spot while exercising. This way you can have the wires and pads attached to your chest and the results can be measured as you exercise. You will also have your blood pressure measured while walking and as you recover. The recovery can be as important as the exercise to help determine any cardiac problems.

Treadmill Running
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They're not always accurate

They used to be performed regularly on people as they got older but not as much anymore. They are expensive to do and they don't always give accurate results. There are sometimes false positives. People were being diagnosed with heart problems when the problems weren't there. Further tests are now done to confirm a diagnosis like a nuclear test or cardiac catheterization.

Treadmill stress tests are nothing to worry about, the risks are low. The test is not designed to test for something like a VO2 max which athletes take. That test is designed to take you to the very edge of what your body can achieve. The test for regular patients is just to get your heart beating that little bit quicker to analyze how your heart performs under stress including blood pressure.


So the test will determine how well your heart pumps blood as it will need to feed the muscles with oxygen used during the test. As said before, a physician is always with you so the test is safe. It's designed to stress your body not take to the edge of peak physical fitness. You will be asked not to eat a big meal 2 to 3 hours before.

Treadmill Running

You need to not use moisturizer on your chest for that day otherwise the electrocardiogram pads won't stick while your performing the test. These are essential to measure the signals from your heart. Sometimes the physician might have you breathing through a tube to test your lung capacity and see how well you recover. In conclusion a stress test is nothing to worry about and you'll be ok.

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Meet The Author

Simon Gould

I'm Simon Gould. I've been around treadmills my whole life. From running on them at an early age to working in treadmill dept's of national stores. I've run outside and I've run on treadmills and I prefer running on treadmills. I still run on one nearly every day and love it.

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