In order to rule out any potential or actual problems with your heart or circulatory system, the doctor may order what’s known as a stress test.

This simple exam, which goes by many names (including treadmill test), is merely a way to measure how your heart and blood vessels respond when the heart is ‘stressed’. The stress factor, in this case, is activity to get your heart working.

A standard exercise stress test uses an electrocardiogram (EKG) machine to record the heart’s activity. This tells the doctor whether your heart is getting enough blood when it is demanded at certain times.

The test is performed in our Miami clinic. You’ll be asked to wear comfortable clothes and sneakers. Then you are asked to walk or run on a treadmill or pedal a stationary bike until your heart is beating faster than normal. If you have medical issues that make it hard to exercise, we can give you medication to make your heart work harder.

While you are moving, our medical staff will be collecting EKG data, as well as checking your heart rate and blood pressure. The staff will attach electrodes to your skin and then ask you to gradually walk faster (or cycle) as he or she monitors your condition.

If you feel chest pain or jaw pain, lightheadedness or any other unusual symptoms (other than heavy breathing and a faster heart rate), you should tell the clinician.

What Can Your Doctor Learn From Stress Test?

  •  whether you are a likely candidate for coronary heart disease
  • see whether your heart is getting enough blood flow while you are active
  • detect any abnormal heart rhythms such as tachycardia (accelerated heart rate) or bradycardia (abnormally slow heart rate)
  • check on how medical procedures or medication are affecting your heart

The doctor can tell from the results of the stress test whether your arteries are being blocked by plaque, which is a waxy substance that may build up inside the blood vessels.

Plaque can prevent enough blood from flowing to the heart. If blood flow is blocked, you are a candidate for a heart attack. While there may not be enough blockage to affect your heart when you are calm, a problem may be spotted when your heart is stressed during exercise.

While there are other conditions that might prevent you from exercising, such as lung damage or anemia, an EKG will give the doctor important information about your heart and blood flow.