Test: Exercise Testing

Exercise testing is usually done when coronary artery disease is suspected. It is used to assess the function of the heart when it is put under stress. The test involves raising your heart rate by exercising, generally using a treadmill with an adjustable slope or an exercise bicycle, and monitoring the heart’s function. The exercise is tailored to ensure that your heart is tested adequately without putting you at risk. Various monitoring methods may be used, including radionuclide scanning, which can image the heart’s function, and ECG, which monitors the heart’s electrical activity.

Exercise ECG

Small electrodes are attached to your chest. As you exercise on the treadmill, the electrical impulses produced by your heart are shown and recorded on an ECG machine.


ECG tracing

These traces are from a person with coronary artery disease. At rest, the ECG trace is normal. During exercise, when the heart beats faster and requires more oxygen, the trace becomes abnormal, showing an exaggerated downward dip.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

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