Do You Need a ?Stress Test?

A stress test is ordered by a doctor to investigate certain types ?of heart conditions

A stress test is typically conducted in a clinic or hospital

A stress test (also called a treadmill or exercise 
stress test) is used to determine how well a person’s heart responds to physical exertion.

The test is ordered by a doctor to investigate certain types 
of heart conditions.

A stress test can: 

  • Determine if there’s adequate blood flow to the heart during exercise

  • Evaluate blood pressure response to exercise in people with elevated blood pressure

  • Diagnose some types of coronary artery diseases

  • Identify abnormal heart rhythms

  • Check the effectiveness of heart medications or other treatments

  • Determine a safe level of exercise

  • Evaluate a patient’s recovery from a heart attack or heart surgery.

Stress tests are usually conducted in a clinic or hospital. The patient is hooked up to an electrocardiogram (ECG) machine (a device that measures the heart’s electrical activity) via leads attached to the chest, and is fitted with a blood pressure cuff. The person is then asked to walk on a treadmill or cycle on a stationary bike. 

During the test, the resistance on the treadmill or bike is slowly increased (or the incline on the treadmill is raised) causing the heart to work harder as the technician monitors ECG readings, heart rate and blood pressure. The test usually continues until the person has reached his or her maximum heart rate or if a problem arises. After the test, the person sits or lies down as all signs are checked. The entire test usually takes less than 45 minutes.

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.