Exercise Tolerance Test (Treadmill)

A treadmill stress test is an exercise test that is helpful in understanding how the heart copes with exercise. It is required to detect the presence of coronary artery disease as it can show if the blood supply is reduced to the heart. Coronary artery disease occurs when the heart's vessels become partially blocked or narrowed by the build-up of fatty materials preventing the heart from receiving the blood it needs to function properly. Treadmill tests are routinely ordered to follow a patient's progress after a hear attack, an angioplasty, coronary by-pass surgery and to evaluate the effectiveness of medication in patients with known coronary artery disease.

Preparation

  • Don't eat, drink or smoke two hours before the test
  • Don't have any caffeine 24 hours before the test - this includes decaffeinated coffee, tea, chocolate and all cola drinks, soft drinks containing caffeine
  • Wear comfortable clothing and shoes
  • You will need to stop taking Beta-Blocker medications 24 hours before the test
  • Bring a list of your current medication to the procedure

Procedure

After you arrive for your test several small pads (electrodes) will be placed on your chest to record your heartbeat. Your blood pressure is also monitored. You then begin walking at a slow rate and slight incline on the treadmill. Every three minutes the treadmill will go a little faster and the incline will increase. The time on the treadmill is different for everyone depending on his or her age and ability to exercise. After stopping the test, you will sit or lie down to have your heart and blood pressure checked. The procedure normally takes approximately 30 minutes.

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