Exercise Stress Testing

What is it?

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Exercise stress testing is a test that your Doctor uses to assess the likelihood there are blockages in your heart arteries. The test also assesses your fitness. Exercise stress testing is sometimes called an exercise tolerance test, stress test, exercise ECG, or treadmill test.

This often done in conjunction with a thallium nuclear scan which is even more sensitive at detecting blockages in the heart arteries.

Pre-test Preparation

Please do not eat or drink for 2 hours before the test. Also, ask your doctor about whether you should withhold any of your medicines as some can affect the accuracy of this test.

We always prioritize our patient's feelings and personal needs before practicality in the procedure room providing there is no potential compromise of patient safety.

What should I expect?

A technician or nurse will attach stick-on ECG electrodes to your chest after cleaning these areas with alcohol. The alcohol may feel cold. These electrodes attach to an ECG machine, which records your heart's electrical activity. You will also wear a blood pressure cuff around your arm, which measures your blood pressure during the test. Before the test, the technician will record your blood pressure and pulse. They will also record your heart's electrical activity with an ECG before you start exercising.

During the test, you will walk on a treadmill. The grade and speed will increase every 2-3 minutes. This will make you feel like you are walking uphill. You should exercise for as long as possible to maximise the workload on the heart and ensure your test is as accurate as possible.

Your Medical Practitioner will look for changes in the ECG and blood pressure levels which may indicate that your heart is not getting enough oxygen because of blockages in your heart arteries. Other signs of angina include chest pain or excessive shortness of breath whilst you are exercising.

Complications are very rare but include a risk of heart attack (1 in 1000 patients) and risk of death (1 in 10,000 patients).

At the end of the test, your doctor will give you a cool-down phase where you may lie down or sit quietly. After the test is over, you may eat, drink and go back to your normal activities.

Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring

What is it?

Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) is a portable blood pressure machine worn for about 24 hours. A computer activates the blood pressure cuff regularly to take your blood pressure whilst you are undertaking normal daily activities.

Why is it performed?

ABPM is performed on people who have high blood pressure (hypertension) that is difficult to control with medication or on people with variable blood pressure.

Patients with suspected 'white coat hypertension' often undergo this test. These patients often have high blood pressure only when visiting the doctor.

You can see variations in blood pressure and heart rate during the day and nighttime that will help your doctor best treat you.

How is ambulatory blood pressure performed?

You will wear a small device on a belt or around your neck. This connects to a blood pressure cuff fitted to your upper arm.

At intervals throughout the day and night (for 24 hours) the recorder inflates the cuff tightly on your arm to take a blood pressure measurement. The computer stores these measurements for later analysis.

How long will fitting take?

A nurse  will fit the device taking no longer than 10 to 20 minutes. During the fitting, they will explain the procedure and provide you with all necessary instructions. Removal of the recorder takes only a couple of minutes, when you return the device the following day.

What should I wear?

You should wear loose fitting clothes, especially around the upper arm. You are not required to undress fully. If possible, please wear a blouse or shirt which buttons at the front - this allows easier fitting of the equipment.