Exercise Stress Test
What is an Exercise Stress Test?
An exercise stress test measures how your child's heart functions during different levels of activity, and also compared to a baseline measure.
An exercise EKG is performed to assess the heart's response to stress or exercise. The EKG is monitored while your child is exercising on a treadmill or stationary bike. The arm and leg electrodes are modified to allow for ease of exercise. While this procedure is seldom used for young children, it may be very useful in evaluating adolescents and young adults.
What Happens During an Exercise Stress Test?
The procedure begins with an initial, or "baseline," EKG and blood pressure readings done prior to exercising. A child then walks on a treadmill or pedal a bicycle during the exercise portion of the procedure. The incline of the treadmill or resistance of the bicycle will be gradually increased to increase the exercise’s intensity level. The child’s EKG and blood pressure, along with any symptoms, will be carefully monitored during the exercise portion of the test. The child will be asked to exercise only to the best of his or her ability. Following exercise, EKG and blood pressure readings are monitored for a short time, perhaps another 10 to 15 minutes.
The procedure takes approximately one hour, including check-in, preparation and the actual procedure. After the procedure, children are free to go home, unless their physician determines that further observation or a hospital stay is needed.
Depending on the results of the exercise EKG, additional tests or procedures may be scheduled to gather further diagnostic information.
What Happens After the Procedure?
A child may feel a little tired or sore for a few hours after the procedure, particularly if he or she is not used to exercising. Otherwise, most children feel normal shortly after the procedure.