Friday, March 04, 2016

Why One Should Not Panic About Positive Treadmill Test Results?

Being widely available at a relatively low cost, treadmill test (also known as exercise ECG or exercise stress test) is used to assess the response of the heart to the increased workload and demand for blood during exercise. This is done by recording the ECG (electrocardiograph) of one’s heart while he or she is walking on a treadmill machine.

First of all, the blood pressure will be taken and an ECG of the heart at rest will be recorded before the test. Then patient will be shown how to walk on the treadmill, which will begin at a slow speed. Thereafter, the speed and gradient of the treadmill will increase gradually at a regular interval of 3 minutes. When the exercise test ends, the patient will be asked to rest on the bed for about 5 minutes while his or her ECG and blood pressure are being monitored and recorded.

During exercise, as the body works harder, the heart must pump more blood since the working muscles need more oxygen. The test can indicate if there is a reduction in blood supply to the heart or if there are any abnormal heart rhythms develop with exercise.

A positive result shown on the ECG monitoring would suggest the likelihood of a blockage in the heart’s blood supply. This may give the doctor a starting point to consider further about the health of patient’s arteries. The doctor will often refer the patient to a specialist for further test.

One option is to have an exercise stress test with ultrasound imaging that is more sensitive and images of the pumping capacity of the heart while exercising could be captured. For patient having risk factors like smoking, high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol, or a strong family history of heart disease, the specialist may examine the patient’s heart arteries using a computed tomography (CT) scan. CT scan can provide high-resolution pictures and will accurately reveal the presence or absence of any severe blockages. Should there be any blockage detected, the patient may need further treatment ranging from medication to procedures to clear the blockages.

The tests, on the other hand, might also confirm that the arteries are completely free of any cholesterol build-up. In this case, the patient can be relieved that the treadmill test is somehow misleading and he or she is at low risk of heart attack.

In other words, treadmill tests can be a good screening tool in diagnosing ischemic heart disease because underlying problem that is not present on the resting ECG test may be detected. It is, however, not perfect because not all patients who have positive stress test have heart disease. 

1 comment:

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