A treadmill stress test is given to further understand a patient’s cardiovascular health, including a disease, injury, and congenital (present at birth) or acquired condition. The test, which can also be done on a stationary bike, analyzes a patient’s heart during exercise, gathering information about how well their heart is working during physical activity. Also, because exercise makes our hearts pump harder and faster than it does for most daily activities, this test can detect heart conditions that would not be noticeable otherwise.
A stress test can reveal an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia), coronary artery disease, even heart muscle damage. It can also determine safe exercise levels for a patient with a heart condition, or for someone who has undergone heart surgery or suffered a heart attack.
The test is usually done with an electrocardiogram (known as an ECG or EKG), which is used to measure a heart’s electrical activity. For the ECG, painless electrodes are placed at specific locations on the chest, arms, and legs.
The patient then walks on a treadmill or pedals on a stationary bike. Breathing and blood pressure rates are monitored in addition to heart rhythm. In result, the ECG creates a visual representation of the heart’s electrical activity, indicating if one or more of several heart-related conditions are present; disorders that are not related to the heart can also be detected.
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