What is a treadmill exercise stress test?

The treadmill exercise stress test is used to diagnose severe blockages of the arteries of the heart (coronary artery disease). It allows your cardiologist to evaluate heart rate response with exercise. It’s used to determine a patient’s fitness. There are other heart problems that are evaluated with a stress test as well. You will be asked to walk on a treadmill and an electrocardiogram will be recorded at rest, during exercise, after exercise and during recovery. There are many different exercise protocols that cardiologists use and try to match the protocol to get as much information regarding the patient’s health, fitness and underlying health issues. The time the patient spends on the treadmill varies from patient to patient.

How is a treadmill exercise test performed?
Electrodes (sticky pads) are applied to the chest and thorax. These electrodes are connected to leads which allow us to monitor your heart rhythm. A live EKG is performed throughout the test. The test is monitored by Dr. Marini. A blood pressure cuff will be used to take blood pressures throughout the test. Often oxygen saturations are measured during exercise. There are multiple different exercise protocols that are used and the protocol used to measure fitness and to evaluate for possible cardiac disease will be determined by Dr. Marini.

What preparation is required?
It’s important not to consume any food or drink 4 hours prior to the test. You can take most of your medicines with water. You will be asked to hold certain medicines that interfere with the test. Medicines such as metoprolol, Lopressor, Cardizem, verapamil, digoxin and other therapies may need to be held prior to the test. Some medications will be held the day prior to the test and some medications will be held the morning of the test. You will be instructed how to take your medication. We ask that you wear the proper clothing for exercise, for instance, shorts and sneakers are recommended. Please wear a t-shirt or sports top that will allow for electrodes to be applied to the chest.

What are some of the indications which require a stress test?
· Determine the likelihood of having coronary artery disease (blockages of the arteries of the heart).
· Evaluate for abnormal heart rhythms such as atrial fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia.
· Assist the patient to develop a proper exercise program.
· Evaluate the safety of heart medications as well as the effectiveness of medical therapy.
· To evaluate the prognosis and functional capacity of patients with coronary artery disease.
· Evaluate the exercise capacity of selected patients with valvular heart disease.
· Initial diagnostic workup for abnormal signs and symptoms, such as chest pain, dyspnea, palpitations.
· To determine the likelihood of coronary artery disease in asymptomatic patients with risk factors for coronary artery disease. Risk factors for heart disease include: history of hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes mellitus, history of tobacco, family history of heart disease, etc.