Cardiovascular exercise test with bicycle ergometer

A stress test, or ergometric test, is a cardiological test that measures the heart's ability to respond to external stress.

Heart rate, blood pressure, electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), and how tired you feel are monitored during the test.

A stress test helps a doctor find out how well your heart handles work.
As your body works harder during the test, it requires more oxygen, so the heart must pump more blood.
The test can show if the blood supply is reduced in the arteries that supply the heart.
It also helps doctors know the kind and level of exercise appropriate for a patient.

A physician may recommend an exercise stress test to:

  • Diagnose coronary artery disease
  • Diagnose a possible heart-related cause of symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath or lightheadedness
  • Determine a safe level of exercise
  • Check the effectiveness of procedures done to improve coronary artery circulation in patients with coronary artery disease
  • Predict risk of dangerous heart-related conditions such as a heart attack

Contraindications for this test are:

  • acute myocardial infarction within 48 hours
  • aortic aneurysm
  • unstable angina
  • decompensated heart failure
  • pulmonary embolism in acute phase
  • myocarditis and/or pericarditis in acute phase
  • severe aortic stenosis
  • endocarditis
  • deep venous thrombosis

Although exercise stress testing is a safe procedure, the risk of complications calls for careful consideration of indications and contraindications.

For the stress test the preparation required is very simple:

  • do not eat or drink caffeine products, energy drink and tea for 24 hours before exam
  • do not eat or drink for three hours before your appointment. Drinking water is OK.
  • do not smoke
  • wear comfortable clothes and rubber-soled shoes or sneakers
  • please bring all your medications or a list of them with doses to your appointment
  • please speak to your physician prior to this exam to receive special instructions you may need regarding your medications
  • Recent blood tests such as blood counts and plasma electrolytes (potassium and calcium) are required

First, a resting electrocardiogram is performed and then the stress test is performed on a bicycle ergometer.
The intensity of the exercise is gradually increased until the heart rate reaches the threshold of about 80% of the maximum values expected for the patient.
The test can be interrupted if the doctor identifies the presence of abnormalities during the exercise and which, therefore, require its conclusion.
The test ends with a recovery phase, lasting a few minutes, during which the physical activity intensity progressively decreases.
The test takes only around 20 minutes.

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