A treadmill stress test is an exercise-based test that is widely used by doctors and cardiologists to diagnose and determine cardiovascular activities, heart rates, and how the heart responds to external stress. It helps in evaluating how your heart handles exertion and pressures that are beyond the normal level of activity that you are used to.
This test is helpful and effective in detecting cardiovascular diseases and helps in evaluating your risk or potential of falling prey to chronic heart diseases. For instance, for a treadmill test, a patient might be asked to walk on the treadmill and can also be asked to use a stationary bike.
There are also cardiac tests that do not need the use of exercise; instead, the patient might be subjected to medications or can be exposed to radioactive substances through intravenous injections.
Who Should Undergo and What are the Expected Results?
These are some of the categories of people who should try a treadmill test,
- Anyone who suspects having cardiovascular issues or symptoms
- Anyone who has a family history of chronic heart diseases
- Anyone with an existing heart condition
Why your doctor would suggest a treadmill test?
The following are some symptoms that might make a doctor suggest a treadmill stress test for a patient.
- Chest pain
- irregular/abnormal heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing
Effects of the test: These are the expectations you should anticipate after the stress test have been taken,
- Adequate blood flow to the heart
- Proper and balanced heart rhythm
- Proper functioning of the heart and blood vessels
A treadmill stress test is widely known to have 73-90% sensitivity and 50-74% specificity. In comparison with a nuclear stress test which has 81% sensitivity and 85-91% specificity. There is another type of cardiac stress test.
Sensitivity in this context refers to the percentage of correctly identified diseases and specificity means the percentage of healthy people who have successfully been identified as not having a heart condition through a stress test.
Possible Complications and Risks
As the prime function of the treadmill stress test is to measure the effects of the treadmill exercise on the body, the risks are minimal. The effects are similar to doing other forms of exercise such as running uphill or walking at a fast pace which may include shortness of breath.
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