Treadmill test (TMT) is a form of exercise test where a stress test is performed while the person is exercising on a treadmill during the course of an Electro Cardiogram (ECG). The purpose of a TMT is majorly to compare blood circulation in the heart when the person is resting and when under optimum physical pressure. Abnormal heart rhythms can be detected while exercising and therefore diagnose the presence or absence of coronary artery diseases.
The test involves walking on a treadmill while the electrical activity of the heart is being monitored. The speed and incline of the treadmill are increased throughout the span of the test. The result shows how well the heart responds to the stress of different levels of exercise. The blood pressure, heart rate and electrocardiogram (ECG) are monitored before, during and after the test. Adhesive electrodes and mild abrasion are used to ensure good quality ECG. The person is advised to walk as long as possible because the test is effort-dependent. It is also important for the person to tell the technologist if he experiences symptoms such as chest pain, dizziness and unusual shortness of breath or extreme fatigue. The blood pressure, heart rate, and ECG are monitored for 3 to 5 minutes after the exercise. The data is reviewed by a cardiologist.
The patient is advised against eating or drinking anything other than water for nearly 4 hours before the test. If the patient is diabetic, he should consult the doctor on the quantity of insulin that can be injected on the day of the test. If the person is under medicine for diabetes he should only resume taking them only after the test has been administered. Comfortable clothes and shoes should be worn for the test.
A TMT is performed to identify a congenital heart problem like Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) where coronary arteries get clogged, diseased or damaged. It is also used to determine the condition of the heart after a person went through angioplasty or heart-attack. Shallow breathing, dizziness, chest discomfort, and abrupt bodily weakness are some of the repressed conditions that can be detected through a TMT. A TMT can also be used to monitor the effectiveness of medicines on angina and ischemia. It also helps in discerning any abnormal heartbeat rate because of exertion caused by exercise.
TMT is now widely available at a relatively low cost. It is used to estimate prognosis and determine functional capacity. It helps in assessing the probability and extent of coronary disease.