Who Needs A Treadmill Stress Test?
By Simon Gould
Exercise stress tests used to be performed commonly in people as they get older to check the heart is pumping blood around the body normally. They are done with a physician or health care professional and while you exercise, you are attached using wires and pads to an electrocardiogram (EKG). You do this while you're exercising to see how your heart performs.
Symptoms that may warrant a treadmill stress test
There are several reasons why your doctor may want you to have an exercise stress test. If you have any chest pains then a test will help in diagnosing what the problem could be. If you have a build up of cholesterol and other substances then a test may be requested. Symptoms of coronary heart disease can be diagnosed with the help of a test.
If you're over 40 and smoke and you want to start an exercise program, then a stress test may be requested. Heart rhythm problems can also be diagnosed. The aim is to put some stress on your heart, if you experience problems such as chest pain or shortness of breath then you'll be able to stop.
You will exercise for around 15 minutes and you'll be monitored as to how you're doing afterwards as your heart recovers. It's not meant to be exhausting as such but enough so that your heart beats faster and can be monitored closely. You will be asked to stand for several seconds while being analyzed then you can sit down.
There are risks
You will have a health care professional with you at all times. But there are risks. You will be there in the first place to diagnose a problem that exercising will help diagnose. So if that's chest pain then you may get chest pain while doing the test. You are sometimes meant to feel the symptoms until you can't continue as per the Mayo Clinic.
There are other risks say Healthline. These include heart attack, collapsing, fainting, chest pain and irregular heartbeat. These may sound alarming and they are. But at least you'll be in the presence of a doctor and the exercise is not designed to be fatal! It's purely to help diagnose heart problems, and the safety record of these tests are good.
Prepare for the test
Your physician will give you instructions on how to prepare for the test. This will usually include not eating, smoking or drinking any caffeine beverages for a few hours before hand. You can still drink water. This is like when I do my normal treadmill exercise. I don't exercise within 2 hours of eating. This enables your blood to circulate properly to encourage a positive test diagnosis.
Remember that for an exercise session, no matter how short, you need comfortable clothing and sneakers if you have them. Be careful not to use moisturizer or certain soaps on your chest and arms as these prevent the pads from sticking to you which is essential for the test. You may want to take a bottle of water with you in case you feel thirsty afterwards.
Don't be afraid to undertake a stress test, they really can make a difference to your life if you get a diagnosis and proper care. Unfortunately they are not always the last of tests for some heart problems but they give a fantastic over view of the condition of your heart. A successful diagnosis can really extend the length of your life.
Your blood pressure is monitored throughout your test and you may have to breath through a tube. This is to test you are breathing correctly. As you can see it's a thorough examination and may cost a lot to perform. They used to be done far more regularly than they are now. Because they need a treadmill or exercise bike together with the EKG, they take a round an hour.