Stress-ECG (Stress electrocardiogram)

What is a stress-ECG?

Constrictions of the coronary arteries (stenoses) lead to circulatory disorders of the heart muscle, and in the worse case to a heart attack. There are various ways of diagnosing such circulatory disorders of the heart muscle. The standard examination is the stress-ECG, also referred to as ergometry. In this method, the patient stresses himself physically. This causes the heart to work harder, increasing the blood circulation to the heart muscle. In the event of severe constrictions in the coronary arteries, parts of the heart muscle are not supplied adequately with blood. This circulatory disorder shows up on the ECG.

When is a stress-ECG necessary?

A stress-ECG is taken in particular if there is suspicion of a coronary heart disease, in which constrictions of the coronary arteries lead to circulatory disorders of the heart muscle, as a result of which it is no longer adequately supplied with oxygen (coronary insufficiency). Some circulatory disorders of the heart only occur under stress, while the supply of blood to the heart is quite adequate at rest. Such circulatory disorders, which do not necessarily manifest themselves by typical symptoms such as Angina pectoris or shortness of breath, can be diagnosed with the aid of the stress-ECG.

In addition to the clarification of a coronary heart disease, ergometry also serves for the assessment of heart arrhythmia disorders and high blood pressure (arterial hypertension) under stress conditions, enabling a check of medicinal therapies used for the treatment of arterial hypertension or coronary heart disease. A stress-ECG can also serve to assess the strength of a patient, for example after a heart attack or a heart operation.

Procedure

Ten suction electrodes are attached to the patient’s upper body, which first record a rest-ECG. The patient is then subjected to mild physical stress on an exercise bicycle, a so-called ergometer. The stress corresponds approximately to that when riding a bicycle at medium speed, and is set individually for the patient, depending on their sex, age, body size and weight. The speed is gradually increased until the patient has reached the relevant “target stress”. During the stress phase and recovery phase, an ECG is continually recorded, and the patient’s blood pressure is taken every minute.

Patients at our clinic can provide a stress-ECG on two different ergometers, either in the sitting or the prone position.

The examination is carried out at our practice on an out-patient basis.

Duration

A stress-ECG takes about 15 minutes.

Risks

A stress-ECG constitutes no risk for the patient.

Note

Since you must exert yourself for a stress-ECG, you should bring with you sturdy shoes and light clothing.

Similar subjects