The stress test consists of increasing the work of the heart in order to detect a possible abnormality via an electrocardiogram. It consists in practicing a muscular effort on a treadmill or a bicycle in order to increase the oxygen needs of the heart. It is usually prescribed by the attending physician or by a cardiologist. ” This test makes it possible to measure the maximum heart rate and if necessary the consumption of oxygen and the rejection of carbonic acid sometimes, explains Dr. Christophe Delong, a sports doctor. In usual practice, it is most often only a Stress ECG “.
According to people, the stress test has several purposes:
- determine the cause of chest pain,
- monitor the proper functioning of the heart, especially after a myocardial infarction,
- monitor the course of heart disease.
- In sports medicine, it is used to determine the methods of training for high-level athletes.
If it is possible to perform a stress test from adolescence, it is especially recommended:
- men over 40
- women over 50 wishing to resume physical and sporting activity,
- people preparing for an intense sporting effort (marathon for example),
- high-level athletes and those with cardiovascular risk factors such as heart rate monitor alerts or palpitations.
Carried out in the presence of a doctor-assisted by a nurse, stress test takes place in three stages.
1. The interview
The interview with the doctor focuses on the family history and the cardiovascular risks associated with tobacco consumption, the presence of diabetes, cholesterol, hypertension, and even obesity.
2. Clinical examination
Before the test, a clinical examination is performed: listening to the heart, auscultation of the lungs, heart rate, and blood pressure. ” For the good progress of the examination, it is preferable not to be fasting but not to have taken a too copious meal either, in the two hours which precede the effort. Also avoid smoking within the hour. Finally, wear comfortable clothes “, specifies the expert.
3. The test
The stress test usually lasts twenty minutes. It is practiced in a cool room (18 to 20 ° C). It takes place in stages of progression: the acceleration of the treadmill or the resistance of the bike is increased every 3 minutes on average. The test is stopped if you experience severe exhaustion or shortness of breath, reach the theoretical maximum heart rate, blood pressure that is too high, an irregular heartbeat or if you feel unwell.
It is practiced in the hospital, in a clinic or in a medico-sports center.
Between 10 and 30 minutes.
If you are apprehensive about the exam, Dr. Delong recommends that you start by choosing the bike or the mat, according to your preferences, in order to be comfortable during the test and to carry it out in a clinic specializing in interventional cardiology.
The stress test is not recommended in the following cases:
- recent myocardial infarction,
- unstable angina pectoris,
- of Hypertension ,
- respiratory failure,