Exercise Stress Test
An exercise stress test or exercise electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) is a test that checks for changes in your heart while you exercise. Sometimes EKG abnormalities can be seen only during exercise or while symptoms are present. During an exercise EKG, you may either walk on a motor-driven treadmill or pedal a stationary bicycle.
The heart is a muscular pump made up of four chambers. The two upper chambers are called atria, and the two lower chambers are called ventricles. A natural electrical system causes the heart muscle to contract and pump blood through the heart to the lungs and the rest of the body.
An exercise EKG translates the heart's electrical activity into line tracings on paper. The spikes and dips in the line tracings are called waves. See a picture of the EKG components and intervals.
A resting EKG is always done before an exercise EKG test, and results of the resting EKG are compared to the results of the exercise EKG. A resting EKG may also show a heart problem that would make an exercise EKG unsafe.