Preparing For A Test
Do not eat or drink 3 hours prior to the test.
This will prevent the possibility of nausea, which may accompany vigorous exercise after eating. If you are diabetic and take medications for diabetes, get special instructions from your doctor.
If you are currently taking any heart medications, check with your doctor.
You may be asked to stop certain medications a day or two before the test. This can help get more accurate test results.
Wear loose, comfortable clothing that is suitable for exercise.
Before the test, you will be given an explanation of the test and asked to sign a consent form. Feel free to ask any questions about the procedure.
Several areas on your chest and shoulders will be cleansed with alcohol and an abrasive lotion, to prepare the skin for the electrodes.
Men may need to have areas of their chest shaved, to ensure that the electrodes stay in place.
What Happens During the Test?
The exercise ECG test can be performed in the doctor’s office or at the hospital.
A trained technician will place several electrodes (small sticky patches) on your chest and shoulders to allow recording of the ECG during exercise. Wires link the electrodes to an ECG machine. A cuff will be applied to your arm to monitor your blood pressure during the test.
What is an Exercise ECG?
An ECG, or electrocardiogram, is a graphic representation of the electrical activity of the heart working harder due to exercise or medication-induced stress, the test is called an exercise ECG, while the heart is at rest.
Is the Exercise ECG Safe?
The exercise test is generally safe. A small amount of risk does exist since exercise stresses the attack. Experienced personnel are available to handle any emergency.
You will be shown how to step onto the treadmill and how to use the support railings to maintain your balance. The treadmill starts slowly, and then the speed and incline are increased gradually.
Your blood pressure will be checked every few minutes, and the ECG will be carefully watched for abnormal changes. You will be instructed to report any symptoms, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, leg fatigue, or dizziness.
The test may end when you become too tired to continue or when you experience significant symptoms. Other times, the test may be stopped when you reach your peak heart rate or when your ECG shows abnormal changes.
After the exercise portion of the test is over, you’ll be helped to a chair or a bed.
Your blood pressure and ECG will be monitored while you recover. The technician will remove the electrodes and cleanse the electrode sites. The test typically takes between 45 minutes to one hour, which includes preparation for the test, the exercise portion, and the recovery period.