What Is An Exercise Treadmill Test?

An exercise treadmill test is a stress test used by physicians to determine whether a patient has coronary artery disease. Coronary Artery Disease is sometimes known as CAD and more commonly known as Heart Disease. The treadmill exercise test places a person on a treadmill for a fixed amount of time and determines the cardiac stress level according to heart rate. This process is also known as the “Treadmill Stress Test”.

The problem doctors have found with checking a person for heart disease is a heart may behave normally when being checked in the normal at-rest conditions of a doctors office. So physicians came up with the exercise treadmill test to help determine cardiac disease, by placing a patient’s heart under a minimal amount of physical stress stemming from exercise.

How Does The Exercise Treadmill Test Work?

So how does the exercise treadmill test work? When a healthy heart and arteries are under normal amounts of stress, the coronary system will dilate to allow for the quicker blood flow needed to cope with moderate exercise. But when a diseased heart and coronary system are forced to cope with the higher rate of blood flow brought on from exercise, the EKG and other stress tests will pick up that stress because of a reduced flow of blood which is sometimes called “starving” the muscles. Therefore, the treadmill stress test is a good indicator of cardiac pulmonary disease.

The term “exercise treadmill test” is not always accurate. Usually, the stress test takes place on a motorized treadmill. Sometimes, though, the cardiac stress test takes place on a stationary bicycle. In either case, patients must perform a moderate level of exercise for a range in the rough area of two minutes. During this time of stress, the doctor monitors the patient’s stress levels.


Patients whose doctors have ordered a stress test might be wondering not only what an exercise treadmill test is, but also when an exercise treadmill test is administered. Generally, a doctor wants a treadmill stress test performed when the patient complains about having one of several different heart disease symptoms.

For instance, if a patient complains of shortness of breath or other unexplained signs of physical fatigue. If a doctor wants to check for an irregular heart beat, that doctor might order an exercise treadmill stress test. Also, if the doctor wants to check for high blood pressure or their patient complains of other signs of hypertension, the doctor might order a stress test.

Is the Exercise Treadmill Test Safe?

Yes, the treadmill stress test is similar to a short burst of strenuous exercise. The cardiac stress test is designed to mimic a short sprint, a short run up a flight or stairs or a jog around your neighborhood. If these are of no trouble to you, then the exercise treadmill stress test should be perfectly safe for you. Often, the doctors will ask a patient to stop eating three hours before the test and stop taking their heart medication a day or two before the stress test.

Also, you should have preliminary results from the test before you leave the doctor’s office. After a few days, you will get the full and official medical report on your stress test results.