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An exercise tolerance test is often requested to investigate the cause of chest pain or discomfort. The test will help determine if these symptoms are due to heart disease as there are many possible explanations for these symptoms. The test is also used to assess the effects of medications, your ability to exercise and to investigate abnormal heart rhythms and palpitations.
An exercise tolerance test is an electrocardiogram (ECG) that is recorded while you are exercising, typically whilst walking or moving on a treadmill. This test will assess how well your heart works when you are active and your heart has to work harder. When you are active your heart requires more blood and oxygen. This test can show if there is a lack of blood through the arteries that supply the heart and can be carried out for people who complain of exercise-induced shortness of breath or chest pain too.
The test takes around 20-30 minutes (depending on how long you manage on the treadmill) and is carried out as an outpatient. Ten sticky electrodes are placed over your chest and abdomen which are connected to wires leading to a small monitor that is worn on a belt around your waist. The ECG monitor follows the electrical activity of your heart during the test. You will then walk on a treadmill or pedal on an exercise bicycle.
As you exercise, readings are taken and relayed to a computer, recording vital statistics about your performance. These are then analysed by the consultant cardiologist, who will then be able to diagnose potential problems and suggest an action plan for treatment.
While you are exercising, the technicians or Cardiologist will monitor your ECG looking for significant changes in the electrical activity of your heart which may suggest you have coronary heart disease. There is very little risk involved in taking this test and it is very useful in identifying those people who need further investigations for their heart symptoms.
Exercise Stress Test / Exercise Tolerance Testing