ECG stress test means, that the patient walks on a treadmill or pedals on a bicycle ergometer. Stress testing is a painless, safe method to measure how well the heart responds to an increase in the body’s demand for oxygen. Exercise is the most commonly used method of creating this increased stress on the heart. For those who cannot exercise, a drug that simulates the effect of exercise, such as dobutamine, may be used. The person taking the test may choose to stop the ECG stress test at any time.
A physician observes the person, monitors the exercise level, and makes recordings until the person’s heart nears a maximum predicted heart rate. The heart also is monitored during the period of cool-down or recovery that immediately follows exercise. The recordings made before, during, and immediately after an ECG stress test can show subtle changes in heart electrical activity that can help a physician to determine physical fitness, locate areas of the heart that receive an insufficient blood and oxygen supply, reveal heart rhythm abnormalities, evaluate a person’s prognosis after a heart attack, verify the effectiveness of medical and surgical therapies, and determine an appropriate exercise program for people with known heart disease.
The test is negative if the subject’s exercise tolerance matched the age-adjusted normal, no complaints occurred, heart rate and blood pressure increased adequately, and no abnormal ECG changes developed.
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