An exercise stress test, also known as ETT or a treadmill test, helps physicians determine the presence and/or extent of heart disease. When a person exercises, the heart must work harder to provide oxygen-rich blood to the working muscles. If a person has some form of heart disease, such as coronary artery disease, heart rhythm disorders (arrhythmias), or abnormalities within the heart muscle, the heart may not be able to pump blood efficiently. When this happens, a person may feel chest discomfort, palpitations, shortness or breath, lightheadedness or dizziness. Some patients, such as diabetics, may not feel anything at all.
Why is a stress test ordered?
- to help diagnose coronary artery disease
- to evaluate possible heart-related symptoms such as chest pain, palpitations, shortness of breath, or lightheadedness
- to determine an appropriate and safe exercise level
- to check the effectiveness of heart-related procedures such as cardiac catheterization with stenting, angioplasty, or coronary artery bypass grafting
- to check the effectiveness of certain heart-related medications such as beta-blockers or anti-arrhythmics
- to predict the risk of heart attack