An exercise electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG)
is a test that checks for changes in your heart while you exercise. Sometimes
EKG abnormalities can be seen only during exercise or while symptoms are
present. This test is sometimes called a "stress test" or a "treadmill test."
During an exercise EKG, you may either walk on a motor-driven treadmill or
pedal a stationary bicycle.
heart is a muscular pump made up of
four chambers . The two upper chambers are called atria, and the two lower
chambers are called ventricles. A natural electrical system causes the heart
muscle to contract and pump blood through the heart to the lungs and the rest
of the body.
An exercise EKG translates the
heart's electrical activity into line tracings on paper. The spikes and dips in
the line tracings are called waves.
A resting EKG is always done
before an exercise EKG test, and results of the resting EKG are compared to the
results of the exercise EKG. A resting EKG may also show a heart problem that
would make an exercise EKG unsafe.
Why It Is Done
electrocardiogram is done to:
- Help find the cause of unexplained chest
pain or pressure.
- Help decide on the best treatment for a person with angina.
- See how well people who
have had a
heart attack or heart surgery are able to tolerate
- Help find the cause of symptoms that occur during
exercise or activity, such as dizziness, fainting, or rapid, irregular
- Check for a blockage or
narrowing of an artery after a medical procedure, such as
coronary artery bypass surgery, especially if the
person has chest pain or other symptoms.
- See how well medicine or
other treatment for angina or an irregular heartbeat is
- Help you make decisions about starting an exercise program
if you have been inactive for a number of years and have an increased chance of
having heart disease.
Exercise electrocardiograms are not recommended if you're healthy and have no symptoms of heart disease.1