The Heart and Vascular Clinic Nashville, TN

What Is An Exercise EKG (Electrocardiogram)?

An Exercise EKG (also commonly known as a Stress test or an ECG) is a test in which doctors use exercise and electrodes to evaluate any changes in the heart that may not show up when the heart is at rest.

When Might I Need An Exercise EKG?

An Exercise EKG may be recommended if:

  • You Are Experiencing Palpitations, Dizziness Or Other Abnormalities During Exercise
  • You have had an Angioplasty, Bypass Surgery Or Other Medical Procedure That May Have Affected Blood Flow
  • You Have Had a Heart Attack
  • You Have Angina
  • You Are On Medication For Irregular Heartbeat
  • You Are Beginning a New Exercise Regimen And Are At High-Risk For Heart Disease Or Have Had a Cardiac Event

What Should I Expect?

During an Exercise EKG, electrodes will be placed on your body and you will begin a period of physical activity, either on a treadmill or a bike. The electrodes, which are connected to an ECG/EKG machine, will measure and record the heart’s activity throughout the test. The intensity of the physical exercise will gradually increase over time. You will be asked to continue exercising until you have reached the desired heart rate (as determined by your doctor) or can no longer exercise. Typically, the test will allow for a “cool down” period, after which your heart rate and blood pressure will continue to be monitored for several minutes.

If you have any chest pain, difficulty breathing or other unusual sensations during the test, please inform the technician immediately.

How Should I Prepare For The Procedure?

To prepare for an Exercise EKG, be sure to wear clothes and shoes that will be comfortable for exercise. If you are a woman, a button down top is suggested for ease of electrode placement.

It is also important that you inform your doctor:

  • Of Any Medical Conditions
  • Of Any Medications You Are Taking
  • If You Are Or May Be Pregnant

Be sure to talk to your doctor about proper preparation before your procedure. You will want to avoid any caffeinated products or cigarettes beforehand, and may also be asked to refrain from taking certain medications. Your doctor will be able to give you specifics on what you should and should not do.

If you have any questions regarding this procedure, be sure to discuss them with your doctor during your next visit.

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