What is a Treadmill Stress ECG?
The heart’s electrical activities can be recorded on a graph call an Electrocardiogram or ECG.
A Treadmill ECG or Stress ECG Test is an ECG recording that is obtained when the heart is subjected to a physical stress such as when a person is running on a Treadmill.
The Treadmill Stress ECG is a useful test done routinely to detect problems that may not be apparent while the heart is at rest.
How safe is the Treadmill Stress Test?
The Treadmill ECG Stress test is relatively safe but a small amount of risk exists since running on a Treadmill stresses the heart. Extremely rare complications include a heart attack and abnormal heart rhythms but these are seen more in cardiac labs in the hospital settings where the test is performed on cardiac patients who are already unwell. Experience personnel are available to handle any emergency when a Treadmill Stress ECG is done.
What is the purpose of doing a Treadmill Stress ECG Test?
The Treadmill Stress ECG test allows the doctors to have an insight to see how well your heart functions during exertion by analyzing the ECG wave patterns recorded when the person is running on a Treadmill. Many heart problems are not apparent and could be missed when the ECG is done when the person is at rest. These occult abnormalities are shown up when the heart is subjected to physical stress of exercise.
How long does the Treadmill Stress ECG Test take?
This will depend on the state of health of the person. In general, people with a normal healthy heart and are physically fit can run longer on the treadmill to reach the more difficult stages where the gradient of the Treadmill is raised. However the entire process of preparing for the test, performing the test and the recovery phase after the test should take not more than 45 minutes in total.
Will I feel any pain or discomfort?
The test is non-invasive but it is normal for a person to feel tired and shortness of breath during the strenuous exercise of running on a Treadmill. However if you ever develop any chest discomfort or become extremely breathless, this may indicate an underlying heart problem which will also show up on the Stress ECG tracings.
What will happen to my blood pressure and heart rate during the Treadmill Test?
Both the blood pressure and heart rate will rise normally during exercise and these are monitored and recorded by the computer during the test. An underlying heart disease may show up as an abnormally rapid heart rate or fall in blood pressure during the test.
What will the Treadmill Stress ECG show?
The Stress ECG tracing may show abnormalities which are indications of abnormal heart functions when the heart is not getting enough oxygen during exercise. Occasionally, the ECG may show abnormal heart rhythms which are indications of underlying heart disorders that do not show up at rest.
Why is the Treadmill Stress ECG test useful?
The Treadmill Stress ECG test is especially useful in detecting and diagnosing blockages in the coronary arteries. The heart muscles may not receive sufficient oxygen during exercise when they are obstructed or narrowed. This may remain undetected and many patients may not even experience symptoms of chest pain (angina) till it is too late. These abnormalities are often undetected when an ECG is done at rest but shows up during the Treadmill Stress ECG.
How do I prepare for the Treadmill Stress ECG Test?
Will I get any further explanation before the Treadmill Stress ECG test?
Yes, our medical personnel will give you an explanation of the test and go through a checklist with you. You will also be asked to sign a consent form if necessary. You are free to ask any questions about the test before it begins.
What happens during the Treadmill Stress ECG test?
We will need to clean several areas on your chest and shoulders with alcohol and a cleanser to prepare the skin for the electrodes. Men may need to have areas of their chests shaved to ensure the electrodes stay in place.
Electrodes will be placed on your chest and shoulders to monitor the electrical activities of your heart. Your blood pressure will also be monitored by strapping the cuff on your arm.
You will be shown how to step onto the Treadmill and how to use the support railings to maintain your balance. The Treadmill begins slowly, and then the speed and incline are increased gradually.
Your blood pressure will be monitored every few minutes, and the ECG tracings will be carefully monitored for abnormal changes.
Can I stop the Treadmill Stress Test if I feel unwell?
You should report any symptoms such as dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain or leg fatigue immediately during the test. The Treadmill Stress ECG test will end when you become too tired to continue further or when you experience any symptoms like dizziness, shortness of breath or chest pain. You should aim to reach you peak heart rate or proceed with the test till your Stress ECG shows abnormal changes on the computer monitor.
What should I do after the Treadmill Stress ECG test?
You may be asked to sit on a chair or lie on a bed while your blood pressure and ECG are monitored till you recover.
Is the Treadmill Stress ECG test accurate in detecting underlying Coronary Heart Diseases?
Like most tests, Treadmill Stress ECG test is not 100% accurate. Both false positive and false negative results can be expected. The result is interpreted together with the other clinical findings such as the lifestyle, family history and cholesterol readings of the person by an experience cardiologist.
When do I get the result for the Treadmill Stress ECG test?
The reports will be sent for review by our cardiologist. It may take several days before we call you to receive and review the report.