Treadmill (exercise ECG)

This may also be called an exercise stress test or exercise tolerance test and is ECG recorded while you walk on a treadmill to see how your heart works when you are more active.

The test starts off at an easy rate, and is gradually made harder, by increasing the speed and slope of the treadmill every 3 minutes. A doctor or cardiac physiologist will carefully monitor your ECG at regular intervals throughout the test.

The test usually lasts from a few minutes up to 15 minutes. Make sure you let staff know if you have any symptoms such as chest pain or discomfort, or if you get very tired or short of breath during the test.

How do I prepare for a treadmill test?

  • Wear light, comfortable clothes and shoes.
  • Avoid having a heavy meal a few hours before the test.
  • Sometimes your doctor may advise you to stop taking certain heart medications for one or two days before the test.

What can the test show?

Your heart needs more blood and oxygen when you are active, so the exercise ECG can show whether your heart is getting enough blood from the coronary arteries during physical activity. This can help doctors find out if you have coronary heart disease and, if so, how severe it is.

An exercise ECG may also be helpful for looking at how well the heart is working after coronary angioplasty, stenting or bypass surgery.