Stress Test (Exercise ECG)
An Exercise Stress Test is used as a means of assessing how your heart and blood vessels respond to physical exertion.
An ECG is recorded at rest, and then whilst walking on a treadmill, or pedalling on an exercise bike. Throughout the test a Cardiac Technician and a Medical Practitioner will supervise you and look for indications that your heart is not getting enough oxygen, signalling obstructed coronary arteries. Your ECG, heart rate, blood pressure and symptoms will be monitored, and you will be asked about any symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain or dizziness. The test takes about 30 minutes to complete.
Why has your doctor ordered a Stress Test?
Your doctor may order a Stress Test to:
1. Determine whether it is likely that you have heart disease. There are many presentations where you may have underlying coronary artery disease.
- Symptoms of heart disease such as chest, jaw or arm pain.
- Shortness of breath, chest tightness or discomfort on exertion
- Reduced exercise tolerance
2. To estimate the likelihood of coronary artery disease in asymptomatic people with a high risk factor profile for ischaemic heart disease.
Family history of heart disease – heart attack, angina or documented coronary artery disease in a first degree relative under the age of 60.
- Elevated blood pressure
- Elevated cholesterol
3. To measure exercise capacity in people with known coronary artery disease. An exercise test is used to estimate the severity of the blockages and response of the heart to physical exertion in patients:
- After a heart attack before release from hospital (not in all cases)
- After an angiogram demonstrating blocked coronary arteries
- After angioplasty or stent insertion
- After modification of medications
- After Coronary Artery Bypass surgery
4. To assess the exercise capacity and progression of the disease in people with other cardiac abnormalities, such as:
- Valvular disease
5. Routine health screening or assessment prior to commencement of an exercise programme. The value of this type of screening in a person with none of the above symptoms, risk factors or disease processes is of limited value, but can yield some useful information.
EXERCISE STRESS TEST PROCEDURE
Before the Test
Do not stop taking any medications prior to the test unless you have been advised to do so by your doctor.
On the Day of the Test
- Bring your referral
- Bring a list of your current medications
- Wear a 2 piece outfit and comfortable footwear
- Do not wear talc, body lotion or neck chains
- Have light meals only prior to your test
- Do not have any caffeine, alcohol or nicotine 2 hours prior to the test
- Immediately before starting the Test
- You will need to undress to the waist
- Men may require part of the chest to be shaved
- Electrodes will be placed on to the chest and an ECG lead connected, attached to a belt worn around your waist
- A gown is then worn over this
During the Test
You will be supervised by an experienced Doctor and Cardiac Technician
Your blood pressure, pulse rate and electrocardiogram will be monitored continuously. The test will be stopped when the Doctor feels it is appropriate.
After the Test
During this time you will receive some feedback about your performance from the supervising Doctor. Drinking water and a towel are available.
You will be asked to rest for about 10 minutes before leaving the premises.
A full report will be sent to your Doctor after the results have been reviewed by a Cardiologist.