What is a stress test?
The stress test is a test that determines the capacity of your heart to tolerate maximum stress before it shows any abnormality.
There are four types of stress tests, and they are as follows:
1.Treadmill Test: TMT test stands for the Treadmill test. It is also connoted as an exercise stress test and exercise tolerance test. TMT is a medical diagnostic procedure that is done to ensure if your heart is receiving enough oxygen and blood flow during highly strenuous physical activities.
We will explain to you the details of TMT in this article.
1.Adenosine Stress Test: This test is specially meant for people who are incapable of physical activities like walking, running, exercising, etc. because of the problems such as arthritis. The person is given adenosine, which makes the heart respond as if the person is exercising so that he/she can detect how the heart is responding to stress. Sometimes this test is combined with walking on the treadmill at low speed for more accurate results. Adenosine may cause mild breathlessness while conducting the test.
2.Stress echocardiogram: This technique implies ultrasound imaging and draws a graphic outline (echocardiogram) of the heart's movement. It clearly shows the pumping action of the heart under stress, including the blood flow. You will either be asked to exercise or give a pill like dobutamine to record your heart's activity.
3.Nuclear stress test: As the name suggests, in this test, a radioactive substance (such as thallium or sestamibi) will be injected into the body. A special camera will scan the heart and depict the movement of the substance inside the body during rest and exercise. Thus the part of the heart that's not functioning properly can be diagnosed.
Now let's get back to TMT.
Why is TMT (Treadmill test) advised?
The test is mainly performed to know your heart's health or whether you are prone to heart disease. It's advised because of the following reasons.
- It can estimate if you are at the risk of developing heart disease, like high cholesterol, even if you don't have symptoms.
- To test your ability to tolerate the exercise while suffering from too much fatigue and shortness of breath.
- It's capable of assessing the effectiveness of undergoing heart disease treatment.
- To confirm coronary artery disease (CAD), narrowing of arteries, heart valve problems (stenosis), etc.
- To detect some irregular heartbeats caused due to exercise.
- You can freely exercise if you have diabetes or any kind of heart disease or after bypass surgery or angioplasty
How to Prepare for the Treadmill Test?
You must consult your doctor to ensure that you can continue or stop any kind of medication you are taking on the day of the test. This includes pain killers, steroids, and sexual stimulants, also.
Your doctor will advise you not to smoke or drink before 3 hours of the test. Your stomach should be empty. Secondly, you will also be asked to exclude chocolates, tea, coffee, aerated drinks, and other types of caffeine-rich beverages.
What is done during the procedure?
- The doctor or the technician places electrodes like sticky patches on your chest and a gel for conducting electrical impulses. These electrodes are attached to an ECG monitor to record the electrical activity of your heart.
- Your doctor will conduct several ECGs before you start the exercise to perform a comparative study.
Once this is done, you will start walking on a treadmill or ride an exercise bicycle. You will be advised to increase the speed gradually.
- Your heart rate will be monitored with an electrocardiogram (ECG), and blood pressure readings will also be taken.
- You will be asked to exercise until you reach the target heart rate.
However, your doctor will stop the test if he observes a drop in blood pressure, irregular heartbeats, and coldness in the skin. Also, if you experience dizziness, fainting, tiredness, pain in legs, or chest pain, the test will be stopped.
What to expect after the treadmill test?
You can return to normal activities after a certain period after the test. Your doctor will advise you to rest until your heartbeat returns to normal. The results are subject to vary from person to person and are dependent upon your health condition. Secondly, the abnormalities will also get detected based on how you perform the test. Your doctor may take a few hours to prepare a detailed report.
Risks involved in the treadmill test
- Low blood pressure might lead to dizziness or fatigue.
- Since you have exercised, you might experience irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) after the test. Tell your doctor if it doesn't go away despite rest.
There's no harm in undergoing a TMT to rule out any underlying heart implications.