What is an Exercise ECG?
An Exercise ECG looks at the electrical activity of your heart before, during and after exercise. Exercising is an important part of this test because it can reveal potential problems with your heart. Exercise ECGs are useful in evaluating symptoms (especially chest pain), determining the effectiveness of your heart medication and your progress following angioplasty/by-pass surgery.
How does it work?
An exercise ECG is conducted on either a treadmill or bicycle. The test will begin slowly and increase in intensity every three minutes. During this time your blood pressure will be taken periodically. The doctor will encourage you to exercise until you reach a target heart rate that’s calculated according to your age and gender. You will then stop exercising and be required to lie down whilst ECGs are taken every 3 minutes for the next 15 minutes or so. It’s important that you inform the Supervising Doctor if you have any symptoms such as chest pain or nausea during the test. You will be required to remain in the practice for at least 15 minutes after the test to ensure that you have fully recovered from the exercise and are experiencing no symptoms.
How do I prepare for the test?
It’s recommended that you wear comfortable clothing and footwear for the test. For example, suitable clothing would be shorts and T-shirt or a track suit. Footwear should be a pair of comfortable walking shoes or runners.
You will be instructed by your GP or Cardiologist if you need to stop your heart related medication 24 hours prior to the test.
How long does the test take?
An exercise ECG takes between 45 minutes and 1 hour.