GXT Stress Test: Treadmill Test for Coronary Artery Disease

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Featured Image By Blue0ctane at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Heart disease can be a tricky guy to pin down. It is very often the case that when a person is resting, their heart condition will show no abnormalities. When the patient is subjected to some exercise, however, all that can change. The GXT Stress Test is a test that provides activity in the form of a treadmill workout. While the task is being performed any abnormalities can be determined from this raised level of exertion on the heart.

Not all complaints that cause heart issues are related to heart disease. Many sufferers of anticipatory anxiety and panic attacks complain of having symptoms resembling heart attacks. Tests such as the GXT stress test allow doctors to determine where the problem originates.

GXT Stress Test Procedure

The Graded Exercise Test (GXT Stress Test,) takes around thirty minutes to complete. While the exercise is performed on a treadmill, don’t have the fear at the back of your mind that you’ll be expected to run a marathon. Your primary task will be walking. The idea of the test is to take you to a state of being breathless rather than you falling to your knees with exhaustion.

The incline of the treadmill will be raised as the test progresses to increase the level of exertion required to continue walking. Even though you’ll only be walking during the test, it is advisable to wear loose-fitting clothes so that you’ll feel more comfortable while the tests are being conducted.

While the image at the top of this post may look daunting to some people, all the wires are merely EKG wires and electrodes. Your EKG and blood pressure will be monitored during the tests. If at any time during the test you feel too tired to continue, you feel fatigued or any heart abnormalities are spotted, then the test can be stopped by the nurse who is conducting the test.

GXT Stress Test In Action Video (duration 2:51)

 What Happens If I Am Physically Unable To Walk?

For patients who are unable to walk, other tests are available. These tests are called Pharmaceutical Nuclear Stress Tests. These tests involve being given an injection of a radiotracer. The result of this process is that the doctor using a Gamma Camera can view your blood flow. If any significant blockages are visible, then these can indicate areas for further investigation.

What to Expect During a Nuclear Stress Test Video (duration 3:56)

Main Points To Note In Preparation for A Nuclear Stress Test:

  • Nothing to eat or drink for at least 4 hours before the test is due to take place.
  • Do not consume any caffeine for the prior 24 hour period (not just coffee, but also energy drinks.)
  • No powders or oily lotions to the chest area before the test.
  • If you usually take other medications, then take these as usual but with only a small amount of water.
  • Wear comfortable clothing.

What Happens If My GXT Stress Test Finds Something Abnormal?

If your test reveals anything that requires further investigation, then you’ll be invited for a follow-up appointment. The next test (if you haven’t had one already,) could be the Nuclear Stress Test shown above. The nuclear stress test will be able to show where blood flow is being restricted, and that area can then be investigated further for recommended treatment.

Have You Ever Had a GXT Stress Test? Comment Below.