The Treadmill exercise (stress) test
The symptom of angina can occur during exercise when the heart muscle becomes short of fuel. Exercise testing is a convenient way of measuring the heart's response to exercise. It is simply an ECG recording made whilst walking on a treadmill rather than at rest. Although it may sound frightening a treadmill is simply a machine with a band, like an escalator, continuously rotating during the test. Every few minutes, usually three, the band moves faster and becomes a little steeper. From the heart's response to these grades of exercise a lot of information about the heart is obtained. During the test your heart rate, blood pressure and changes in the ECG recording will be monitored. Allowing time for preparation and cool down the test may take up to 45 minutes.
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The Electrocardiogram (ECG)
This records the electrical activity of the heart. The test is painless and takes about ten minutes. During the test you lay on an examination couch. A number of plastic tabs (electrodes) are placed on your arms, legs and chest. These detect the minute electrical signals that are produced by the heart muscle. The electrodes are connected by wires to a machine that records all these signals and prints them out on paper. The test indicates if there has been any previous damage to the heart muscle such as that caused by a heart attack. It does not detect the presence of narrowings in the coronary arteries. The test may also detect some changes in heart rhythm especially if they are long standing.