Stress ECG explained


Stress ECG explained

What is an exercise stress test?

An exercise stress test (EST) is an ECG performed under conditions of gradually increasing physical exercise. The ‘stress’ placed on the heart and cardiovascular system by running on a treadmill or pedalling an exercise cycle may reveal changes on the ECG to suggest coronary artery disease (CAD).

How is an EST performed?

Undergoing an EST involves exercising to the maximum effort possible for that individual. The test is performed in a specialized laboratory where an experienced doctor (often a cardiologist) supervises the procedure. The patient is attached to ECG leads which continuously record the heart’s electrical activity. Usually a specialized and specific treadmill unit is used to exercise the patient, with gradually increasing difficulty, to achieve the highest possible workload.
Regular blood pressure and pulse rate measurements are taken during the exercise. Continuous ECG recording will detect any evidence of heart muscle ischaemia, where the oxygen demand of the heart muscle is greater than the oxygen supplied by the blood flow to the heart muscle. The test is stopped when maximal workload is reached, or if ECG changes suggestive of angina occur, or when drop in blood pressure detected. Equipment and staff for a full resuscitation are usually available in case of any adverse events.

When would you need an EST test?

An EST is often requested by a GP, emergency physician or cardiologist in cases of chest pain where the cause is not certain. Symptoms of shortness of breath on exertion, waking up in the night with severe breathing difficulty (paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnoea or PND), or ankle swelling may all be due to heart failure, where the heart’s ability to pump is impaired.
Heart failure is mostly due to ischemic heart disease (IHD), also known as coronary artery disease. CAD may cause chest pain (angina) or symptoms of heart failure, such as shortness of breath (SOB) on mild exertion.

EST test results explained

The results of an EST are usually reported as either negative, positive or inconclusive.


A negative test result indicates a normal test which significantly decreases the likelihood of coronary artery disease.


A positive test result occurs where a diagnosis of coronary artery disease (CAD,) is more likely to be followed by further investigation cive a coronam angiograms for the final diagnosis.


An inconclusive test result is usually due to non-diagnostic ECG changes, or when the test is terminated early due to exhaustion, before maximum heart rate or workload is reached.
In such instances, a further investigations would be mandatory to read a final diagnose such as an echocardiogram.

You can contact HeartAid Centre on 94 114504663/4 to get your Stressed ECG Test done at a non hospital, safe environment.



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