Treadmill testing is a stress test performed by monitoring a patient’s heart rate and blood pressure – first at rest, then under progressing levels of physical stress created by the patient’s activity on a treadmill.
Leads to an EKG are attached to the patient during this test to monitor various areas of the heart. After recording the “at-rest” levels, the treadmill is started a relatively slow speed. After the warm-up, the treadmill’s speed and inclination are increased every three minutes (this 3-minute intervals is called a “stage”).
The treadmill is stopped when the patient reaches his/her target heart rate. If the patient is doing very well at this peak point of the exercise, the test may be continued further. Conversely, the test may be stopped before the patient reaches his/her target heart rate if they develop any shortness of breath, dizziness or chest discomfort. The test may also be stopped early if the EKG shows serious changes or an irregular heart beat, or if the blood pressure rises or falls beyond acceptable limits.