The stress test consists the simplest and bloodless diagnostic method for the detection and monitoring of poor blood supply to the heart, commonly known as myocardial ischemia that is principally due to a Coronary Heart Disease, that is to stenoses of the arteries that supply blood to the heart. By the stress test on a treadmill or while riding a stationary bicycle, the examined patient undergoes controlled physical exercise and continuous electrocardiographic and clinical monitoring. Various exercise routines, known as protocols, are followed. The most widely used stress test protocol is the Bruce protocol, where the examined person walks on the treadmill and the degree of difficulty gradually increases, by increasing the incline and the speed of the treadmill every 3 minutes (fatigue stage) until the procedure is completed based on the maximum predicted heart rate (depending on the age of the examined person, 220-the age). The duration of the stress test depends on the physical condition of the patient; the average duration is 6 to 8 minutes. High level athletes can exceed 15 minutes. For patients with poor health or elderly patients are applied other exercise protocols, more progressive and mild.
The insufficient blood flow to the heart during the stress test is usually accompanied by precordial pain, known as angina pectoris and with electrocardiographic abnormalities which are typical of the insufficient blood flow.The stress test can be stopped at any time by the Cardiologist if there are adequate signs or in case the patient cannot complete the test.
- It is recommended that the last light meal takes place at least 3 hours before the stress test.
- The patients under medication, only stop taking the drugs that are called β-blockers and only with the consent of their Cardiologist.