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Treadmill Stress Testing

A treadmill stress test is used to measure the effect of exercise on a patient’s heart. This test may be ordered if a patient:

  • Is having chest pain
  • Has angina that is getting worse or happening more often
  • Has had a heart attack
  • Has had angioplasty or heart bypass surgery
  • Is going to start an exercise program and has heart disease or certain risk factors
  • Has heart rhythm changes that occur during exercise

How does it work?

A technician will place electrodes on the patient’s chest. The electrodes are attached to an ECG monitor that measures electrical activity in the heart during the test. Blood pressure is also closely monitored.

The patient will walk on a treadmill. Slowly, he or she will be asked to walk faster, on an incline, or with more resistance.

The test continues until the patient:

  • Reaches a target heart rate
  • Develops chest pain or a concerning change in blood pressure
  • Shows ECG changes that suggest the heart muscle is not getting enough oxygen
  • Is too tired to continue
  • Has other symptoms such as leg pain

Patients will be monitored for 10 to 15 minutes after exercising, or until the heart rate returns to baseline.


Am I a good candidate for treatment?

A physician may recommend a treadmill stress test for patients with signs or symptoms of coronary artery disease or an arrhythmia.

The test may also be used to guide treatment decisions, measure the effectiveness of treatment or determine the severity of a heart condition.


What can I expect after treatment?

Patients can resume normal activity after the test.