Stress ECG

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What is a Stress ECG? 

The exercise stress test -- also known as an exercise electrocardiogram, treadmill test, graded exercise test, or stress ECG, is used to assess the effects of exercise on the heart function. Measurements of the patient's heart rate and blood pressure will be taken during the procedure. Exercise Stress Testing is used for the assessment of arrhythmias and ischemic heart disease.

How can I prepare for a Stress ECG? 

It is strongly recommended that patients neither eat less than 2 hours prior to the test, nor that they smoke or consume caffeine within this timeframe. Additionally, medicines which are considered to be Beta Blockers should be stopped 48 hours prior to the test. Patients should also wear appropriate clothing to maximise comfort when using the treadmill.

The Procedure

Patients will be required to remove all items of clothing from the waist up; ladies may request a gown or sheet to cover up if necessary. The patient's skin will be prepared for the procedure using some rough paper and alcohol wipes. Once attached to the patient, 10 electrodes will be then connected to the ECG machine in order to measure the heart's electrical activity. During the cardiac exercise stress test, patients will walk on a treadmill or cycle on an exercise bike until they reach at least the “target heart rate” - which is 85% of the maximum heart rate predicted for the individual. Every 3 minutes, the speed, incline and resistance of the treadmill will increase, for a period of up to 15 minutes maximum. During the test, one or more medical professionals will monitor the patient's ECG, heart rate, blood pressure and heart rhythm. The test may be stopped if the patient develops chest pain, their blood pressure is becoming a concern, ECG changes, or the patient becomes too tired to continue exercising.