If you've been having chest pain or other cardiac symptoms, your doctor may want to run some tests. You might have an EKG that gives the doctor a reading of your heart rhythm, but this is usually done while you're at rest.
If your doctor wants to know how well your heart works when you're experiencing physical stress, they may want to do stress testing too. A stress test gives your doctor a look at your heart rhythm and rate when you exercise. Here's how it works.
You Exercise Under Supervision
If you've been having trouble with your heart, you may feel anxious about stressing your body with exercise. However, you'll be supervised the entire time so the test can be stopped if necessary. Your doctor wants you to exert yourself but not work so hard that you have bad side effects. In addition to being supervised by medical personnel, your vital signs will be monitored along with your heart rhythm.
You Might Choose Your Exercise
A stress test is often given on a treadmill, but if you have trouble walking, your doctor might have you exercise on a bike instead. If neither type of exercise is right for you, your doctor might give you medication that increases your heart rate and mimics the effects of exercise.
If you do stress testing on a treadmill, the length of the exercise could be several minutes long depending on how well you can tolerate the exertion. The speed and incline of the treadmill gradually increase to make your exercise challenging.
You'll Start With A Baseline EKG
When you arrive for your stress testing, the first thing you'll do is have an EKG at rest. This gives the doctor something to compare the results of the exercise test to. Your heart rhythm continues to be monitored during the test while you're on the treadmill.
It's normal for your heart rate and blood pressure to become elevated while you're exercising, so those aren't usually cause for alarm unless they get too high. If your heart rhythm changes, that might be a cause for concern and can give your doctor the information they need to understand how blood is flowing through your heart and how your heart is pumping.
You may not know the results of your stress test until the doctor has time to read your EKG later. The results may help your doctor know what medications and treatments to give you for managing your chest pain and other symptoms.
Contact a clinic like Alpert Zales & Castro Pediatric Cardiology to learn more.