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Exercise Electrocardiogram

How To Prepare

Tell your doctor if you:

  • Are taking any medicines, including a medicine for an erection problem (such as Viagra). You may need to take nitroglycerin during this test, which can cause a serious reaction if you have taken a medicine for an erection problem within the previous 48 hours. Ask your doctor whether you need to stop taking any of your other medicines before the test.
  • Are allergic to any medicines, such as those used to numb the skin (anesthetics).
  • Have had bleeding problems or take blood-thinners, such as aspirin or warfarin (such as Coumadin).
  • Have joint problems in your hips or legs that may make it hard for you to exercise.
  • Are or might be pregnant.

Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).

Your doctor may recommend how you should eat before the test. For example, your doctor may suggest you only eat a light breakfast before your test.

An exercise EKG may be dangerous and should not be done in some situations. Be sure to tell your doctor if you:

  • Think you are having a heart attack.
  • Are having chest pain that is not relieved with rest (unstable angina).
  • Have high blood pressure that is not controlled with medicine.
  • Have untreated, life-threatening irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias).
  • Have severe narrowing of one of your heart valves (aortic valve stenosis).
  • Have an infection in your heart muscle (myocarditis).
  • Have a severe decrease in the amount of red blood cells (anemia).
  • Have a stretched and bulging section in the wall of the large artery that carries blood from the heart (aortic aneurysm) or in one of the chambers of the heart (ventricular aneurysm).
  • Have severe lung disease.

Remove all jewelry from your neck, arms, and wrists. Wear flat, comfortable shoes (no bedroom slippers) and loose, lightweight shorts or sweat pants. Men are usually bare-chested during the test. Women often wear a bra, T-shirt, or hospital gown. Avoid wearing any restrictive clothing other than a bra.

You may want to stretch your arm and leg muscles before beginning an exercise EKG.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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