An electrocardiography is a test used to assess possible alterations in the electrical activity of the heart during a situation of physical stress. This test is requested when the baseline electrocardiogram hasn’t registered alterations that do not appear while resting.
The most common type of stress test is the ekg recording obtained while the patient is running on an endless belt (treadmill), the least used is the one while riding a stationary bicycle.
The medical provider will place adhesive electrodes on different areas of the body, mostly on the chest, through these electrodes the ekg tracing gets recorded. The test requires the presence of a doctor to monitor the patient's blood pressure and heart rate, the electrodes will record the electrical activity of the heart and will allow the doctor to be on alert to identify any alteration that the patient may develop while running on the treadmill.
Part of the process of the study, the patient must walk on a treadmill while the speed and slope increase every few minutes until the patient gets tired, fatigued or the appearance of any symptoms such as chest pain or dizziness, these kind of developments may lead to early discontinuation of the study, or the doctor can determine that the procedure should be stopped.
As with any diagnostic test, the patient should discuss with the doctor the medications that they’re using, since the use of medications could create alterations on the ekg. A detailed medical history and use of medications is very important information for the cardiologist performing the study and interpreting the results. On some situation the cardiologist may recommend the patient stops taking some medications prior to the test.
It is also recommended not to smoke, eat, or drink, especially alcoholic beverages or those with caffeine or gas, 3 hours prior to the test.
The use of loose sportswear and comfortable shoes is also recommended for the test.
The stress test can be performed for two purposes: to obtain a diagnosis, or to assess the prognosis.
Thus, diagnostic stress testing may be indicated in the following situations:
In case of stress testing for prognostic purposes, possible indications include: