What is Treadmill Test?

Treadmill is also called as exercise stress test. It allows us to assess the response of your heart to the increased workload and demand for blood during exercise. It is useful in diagnosing Ischaemic Heart Disease (reduced blood supply to the heart muscles due to coronary artery disease). During exercise, healthy coronary arteries will be more dilate compared to an blocked artery. This unequal dilation causes more blood to be delivered to heart muscle supplied by the normal artery. In contrast, narrowed arteries end up supplying reduced flow to its area of distribution. This reduced flow causes the involved muscle to ‘starve’ (lack of oxygen/blood flow) during exercise, and may produce symptoms like chest discomfort or inappropriate shortness of breath. The electrocardiograph (ECG) of your heart will be recorded while walking on a treadmill machine.

Preparations before the test

Confirm with your doctor if you are required to stop your current medication for 3 days before the test.

If your test is scheduled in the afternoon, please take a light meal before you come.

Do not apply lotion, oil, or powder to the chest.

Running shoes and socks will be provided. Please bring your own shoes and socks if you want.

For men, please shave your chest before coming so that the ECG electrodes can be placed on your chest.

How is the test done?

ECG electrodes will place on your chest and a blood pressure cuff around your arm for continuous monitoring throughout the test. Thereafter, the doctor will assess your condition and ask you to sign on the consent form before starting your test by walking on the treadmill.

Your blood pressure will be taken and an electrocardiogram (ECG) of your heart at rest will then be recorded. Instruction will be given during the test. Initially, it will start off at a slow speed. Thereafter, the speed and gradient of the treadmill will increase gradually at a regular interval of 3 minutes.

During the test, your blood pressure, heart rate, ECG and general condition will be monitored closely. When the exercise test ends, you will be asked to rest for approximately five minutes while your ECG and blood pressure are being monitored and recorded. The ECG, heart rate, blood pressure response and symptoms recorded during the test will be analyzed and the report will be given to your doctor.

Is the test safe?

If you are sick of fever, running nose or acute illness, you should not undergo the treadmill test. As the stages of the test progress, it can get quite strenuous. If you feel tired, unwell or unable to continue, please tell the doctor or medical technologist to stop the treadmill at any time. Please note that once you discontinue the test, you will not be able to redo or continue with the test.