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The stress test is one of the most common medical tests because it allows to know how the heart responds to exercise high intensity. It is used to detect any type of ischemic alteration that only occurs with exercise and that could be a risk factor for a heart attack.

What is ergometry?

Ergometry, more popularly known as stress test, is a technique aimed at assessing the way in which the heart responds to physical exercise. One of its most common uses is the diagnosis of angina pectoris in patients with chest pain. It is a highly valued medical test when it comes to detecting coronary affections since it allows to observe cardiovascular alterations that are not present when the patient is at rest.

If a certain patient has coronary artery disease, the blockage in the artery usually allows blood flow to the normal heart when the heart is at rest; therefore, in this state he does not present any type of symptoms, so that the results of the electrocardiogram are completely normal.

Meanwhile, ergometry allows detecting the condition since the patient is doing physical exercise, so that the blood flow is not at its normal levels. The range of heart diseases in which the stress test is performed is increasing: congenital heart disease, high blood pressure , heart failure …

Causes for performing an exercise test

Exercise testing is one of the best diagnostic tests to detect cardiac abnormalities. There is a large selection of situations in which the physician may request that the stress test be performed; usually do it when there is a suspicion of any of the following diseases.

  • Angina pectoris: there are many patients around the world who suffer from angina pectoris. A condition that if it is at stable levels does not cause any concern. However, if there is any alteration, it is necessary to perform an ergometry to determine the extent of it.
  • Heart attack : on some occasions, the doctor may request this test after a heart attack to find out the residual damage that has remained in the heart. Also, this way you can determine whether or not additional testing is necessary.
  • Arrhythmias : certain types of arrhythmias appear only when the person is doing physical exertion. Thus, exercise stress testing can help these arrhythmias occur in a controlled way and help detect them.
  • Ischemic heart disease: all those adults who have a cardiovascular risk factor, such as high cholesterol, and who have not done intense physical exercise so far and are going to do it for the first time, should undergo this medical test. The objective is to rule out any ischemic alteration that has gone unnoticed.

How it is performed?

Ergometry consists of making the greatest possible effort , so that during the test people usually reach their maximum fatigue threshold. It is important to report any type of animal symptoms to the doctor during the process, such as chest pain, feeling short of breath, dizziness or nausea.


It is the doctor who must decide whether or not it is necessary to suspend the medication days prior to performing this test. The patient must come with comfortable clothes and shoes; As for footwear, the best are sneakers . In addition, it is desirable that there is not too much hair on the chest to be able to perform the electrocardiogram correctly.

It is advisable to avoid large meals between two and three hours before the test , as well as alcohol and caffeinated drinks. During the 12 hours prior to exercise testing, it is not advisable to perform any type of high intensity physical activity.

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Before starting the exercise test, the patient undergoes two electrocardiograms ; the first one with the patient lying down, and the second with him standing up.

The stress test is performed on a treadmill , at a speed and incline determined depending on the physical condition of the patient and their age. The test lasts between 6 and 12 minutes, during which the doctor progressively increases the load. During that time, the patient undergoes continuous electrocardiographic monitoring. In addition, you will be fitted with a blood pressure monitor cuff to measure your blood pressure and a pulse oximeter to measure your blood oxygen level.

Once the electrodes are attached, the patient should begin to walk gently. The first minutes do not require a great physical effort; They are used to check if the electrode registration is correct. Every 3 minutes or so the patient should increase his muscular effort ; To do this, the belt rolls at a faster rate or increases its incline. During the last minutes of the exercise test, the patient should run vigorously.

One of the critical moments of exercise testing is the moment of maximum effort since the patient may be short of breath. Special attention is also paid to the recovery time, which usually ranges between approximately 3 and 5 minutes.


Exercise testing is one of the simplest medical tests. It is not invasive and, therefore, in the vast majority of cases it does not pose any type of risk to patients. Those with certain heart conditions may experience severe chest pain and a feeling of shortness of breath. It is very rare for a heart attack or arrhythmia to occur; If any of these complications occurs, in the room itself there are the necessary means to carry out an urgent intervention.


During the test, the electrodes pick up the electrical signals, which are stored in a memory. Thus, once the ergometry is completed, the doctor studies and analyzes the different parameters. The alterations that are looked for in the electrocardiogram performed during the test are those typical of cardiac ischemia: peaked T wave, widening of the QRS waves and descent of the ST segment.

When one or more of these alterations occur, the doctor must look for their relationship with the blood pressure figures and the level of oxygen in the blood, as well as the intensity of the exercise that the patient was performing at that time. In this way, a diagnosis is made about the heart problem that the patient presents.

Normal stress test results are when the heart rate does not exceed the theoretical maximum heart rate, and the rhythm is smooth and constant.

As for abnormal results , it is usually due to the presence of arrhythmias during exercise or drastic changes in the electrocardiogram, which may suggest a blockage in the coronary arteries. If the result of the stress test is abnormal, the specialist should order other additional tests such as a heart catheterization or an echocardiogram to detect any type of alteration.

The stress test is one of the most common medical tests, which are performed both young adults and older. It allows detecting a wide range of heart conditions that are not visible with the patient at rest.


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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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