Stress testing, sometimes called a treadmill test or exercise test, helps your doctor determine how your heart is coping with activity. As the body intensifies during the test, its need for oxygen increases, forcing the heart to pump more blood. This test can show a reduction in blood flow to the arteries, and can also help doctors determine the right level and type of exercise for you.
This test can be done in a medical center or doctor’s office. The technician will place 10 flat, sticky patches called electrodes on your chest. The patches are attached to an ECG monitor that monitors your heart’s electrical activity during the test.
You will be asked to walk on a treadmill or pedal on a stationary bike. Gradually (about every three minutes) you will be asked to walk faster (or pedal) on a steeper surface. This is like walking fast up a hill. During these movements, your heart rate is measured with an ECG. Your blood pressure will also be taken. This test continues until:
Reach the set heart rate.
Have chest pain or a worrying change in your blood pressure.
Excessively tired or have other symptoms, such as foot pain, that make it impossible for you to stay active.
Also, your vital signs and ECG will be monitored for 10 to 15 minutes after exercise, or until your heart rate returns to normal. This test takes a total of about 60 minutes.
Wear comfortable shoes and clothes that you can exercise with. Ask your doctor if you should take your usual medications on the day of the test, as some medications affect the test results. Never stop taking any medicine without consulting your doctor. Tell your doctor if you are taking sildenafil citrate (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis) or vardenafil (Levitra) or have taken it in the last 24 to 48 hours.
You should not smoke, eat, or drink anything that contains caffeine or alcohol for three (or more) hours before smoking. In most cases, patients are asked to refrain from consuming caffeinated substances for 24 hours before the test. These materials include:
Tea and coffee
A variety of beverages, even those labeled decaffeinated
Types of chocolate
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