Exercise Stress Test
An exercise stress test shows how your heart works when you are physically active. While you're exercising on either a treadmill or a stationary bike, an electrocardiograph or ECG (also known as an EKG) records your heart’s electrical activity, allowing your doctor to see changes in your heart rate. While you're exercising, a nurse or physician assistant will watch your other vital signs, such as breathing and body temperature.
How is the test performed?
Electrode patches will be attached to your body. These patches are connected to the ECG monitor, which will record your heart rate throughout the test. You will then be asked to begin exercising on the treadmill or stationary bicycle. When your heart rate has increased to a certain level, you will stop and rest. Your heart will continue to be checked until the rate returns to normal.
What can my doctor learn from this test?
The test provides valuable information about the condition of your heart. If you experience chest pain or if you recently had a heart attack or heart surgery, the test can show how much physical activity your heart can handle or the amount of exercise that is best for you. It can also identify abnormal heart rhythms that occur when you are physically active.
What will I feel during the test?
You may feel tired from the exercise. Additionally, some people with sensitive skin have reported slight irritation from the electrode patches; skin cream or lotion can help reduce irritation after the patches are removed.
Is there anything special I should do before the test?
Do not eat, drink or smoke for three hours before the test. Also, wear comfortable shoes and loose clothing for exercising.
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