A stress test, also called an exercise stress test, shows how a person’s heart works during physical activity. Because exercise makes the heart pump harder and faster, an exercise stress test can reveal problems with blood flow within the heart.
A stress test usually involves walking on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike, the heart rhythm, blood pressure and breathing are monitored. Or the person will receive a drug that mimics the effects of exercise.
Why Does a Person Need an Exercise Stress Test?
The doctor uses the test to;
- Help assess symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath or palpitations, to determine whether they are coming from the heart.
- See if enough blood flow to the heart as they get more active
- Learn how the heart medication are working
- Find out if it’s likely that a person has coronary heart disease and need more testing
- Identify abnormal heart rhythms
- See how well the heart valves are working
- Help the patient develop a safe exercise program
During a Stress Test
Before the patient begins exercising, they’ll be hooked up to the EKG machine. Several sticky pads will be attached to their skin under the clothes. The doctor or nurse will check the heart rate and breathing rate before the patient begins exercising.
The doctor may also have them breathe into a tube to test the strength of the lungs. The patient will start off by walking slowly on a treadmill. The speed and grade of the treadmill will be increased as the test continues.
If the patient experiences any difficulties — especially chest pains, weakness, or fatigue — they may ask to stop the test.
When the doctor is satisfied with the results, the patient will be able to stop exercising. The heart rate and breathing will continue to be monitored for a short while afterward.
After a Stress Test
After the patient stops exercising, they may be asked to stand still for several seconds and then lie down for a period of time with the monitors in place. The doctor can watch for any abnormalities as the heart rate and breathing return to normal.
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