Exercise stress test, also known as stress test or treadmill test, is an effective way of testing heart health to find out the presence of any coronary diseases. The test monitors cardiac performance during physical exertion and stress. It is performed by trained technicians and doctors to ascertain how much stress the heart can manage before it shows ischemia, abnormal rhythm, or the presence of any other coronary diseases.
The exercise stress test typically involves pedaling a stationary bicycle or walking on a treadmill at increased levels of difficulty under medical supervision. Simultaneously, your blood pressure, cardiac rate, and electrocardiogram are also monitored to ascertain cardiac performance under extreme exertion and stress.
A doctor may recommend exercise stress test to both — the persons with a healthy cardiac condition and those with a coronary disease.
It helps a doctor:
- Determine whether there is adequate blood flow to the heart during an increased level of stress and physical exertion. As the body functions harder during an exercise stress test, it demands more oxygen. It is important for the heart to pump more blood during the test. The test helps determine whether blood supply is reduced in arteries that are connected to the heart.
- Determine the risk of coronary disease and cardiac attack and the need for medical evaluation. Since blood pressure, heart rate, and echocardiogram is monitored during exercise stress test, it helps determine the likelihood of coronary diseases or cardiac attacks.
- Evaluate efficacy of prescribed medications for controlling ischemia, angina, and other cardiac and coronary diseases.
- Monitor effectiveness of treatment procedures followed to increase blood flow to the heart vessels in patients with coronary disease or cardiac attack.
- Develop a safe and effective physical exercise regime to keep the heart healthy.
- Identify abnormal heart rhythms that may be caused by a coronary disease, poor cardiac performance, or lack of adequate blood supply to the heart.
- Diagnose possible heart-related causes of symptoms such as lightheadedness, cardiac pain, or shortness of breath, or any other related coronary diseases.
Types of Exercise Stress Test
- Treadmill test: This is the basic exercise stress test, performed as long as you have normal ECG and can walk. As you walk on the treadmill, your heart health parameters are monitored to ascertain whether your echocardiogram changes or you develop chest pain, whether your heart is getting adequate blood supply, or whether you have any other coronary diseases.
- Stress echocardiogram: This exercise stress test helps accurately visualize the heart’s pumping action as well as cardiac performance and find out when the heart undergoes excessive stress.
- Adenosine stress test: This test is for patients who are unable to exercise. In adenosine stress test, a particular drug is given to initiate heart response as if during exercise.
- Nuclear stress test: This exercise stress test helps determine which parts of the aorta are functioning normally and which are not functioning.
The exercise stress test can be useful in diagnosing the coronary diseases at an early stage.
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