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Exercise Stress Test

Exercise Stress Test

An exercise stress test measures how a 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 the child is exercising on a treadmill or stationary bike. We modify the arm and leg electrodes to allow for ease of exercise. While we seldom use this test for young children, it’s proven very useful in evaluating adolescents and young adults.

What happens during an exercise stress test?

The procedure begins with initial, or "baseline," EKG and blood pressure readings done prior to exercising.

Then, for the exercise portion of the test, the child walks on a treadmill or pedals a bicycle.

We gradually increase the incline of the treadmill or resistance of the bicycle 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. We ask the child to exercise only to the best of their ability.

Following exercise, we monitor the child’s EKG and blood pressure readings for a short time, perhaps 10 to 15 minutes.

The entire procedure takes approximately one hour, including check-in, preparation and the actual test.

What happens after an exercise stress test?

  • After the procedure, the child is free to go home, unless their physician determines that further observation or a hospital stay is needed.
  • A child may feel a little tired or sore for a few hours after the procedure, particularly if they are not used to exercising. Otherwise, most children feel normal shortly after the procedure.
  • Depending on the results of the exercise EKG, additional tests or procedures may be scheduled to gather further diagnostic information.
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