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If your heart problems occur most often during exercise, your doctor may ask you to walk on a treadmill or ride a stationary bike during an ECG. This is called a stress test and it is used to assess the response of your heart to increased demand for blood. If you have a medical condition that makes it difficult for you to walk, medication may be injected to stimulate your heart.
A stress test is very safe. Some patients may experience chest pain during the test. The risk of heart attack or abnormal heartbeat is extremely low. A doctor is present (either physically in the lab or in vicinity) during the test to ensure your safety.
Some preparation may be required on your part before you come in for the stress test.
You may be asked to stop certain medications a day before the test. Please confirm this with your doctor.
On the day of the test, take a light meal before the test.
Please bring comfortable shoes (preferably running shoes) and wear loose fitting clothes. Male patients may need to shave the chest so that ECG electrodes can be attached.
If you have a fever or a feeling unwell please inform the staff, so that the doctor can assess you before the test.
Once you start walking on the treadmill, your blood pressure, heart rate, general condition and ECG will be monitored continuously. After every three minutes, the speed and slope of the treadmill will be increased. You will be encouraged to exercise for as long as you can and the test will continue until you reach a desired heart rate or cannot exercise any more (usually 10-15 minutes).
After the test, you will be asked to rest while your blood pressure and ECG are recorded. You will rest until you reach the baseline heart rate. A cardiologist analyzes all the recordings and the results are made available in a few days. Your doctor will look for a consistent, even heart rhythm and a heart rate between 60 and 100 beats per minute. Variations provide important information about your heart's health, including:
No follow-up is necessary after a stress test.