Most people know they have nothing to fear from a treadmill test. They know it is done to check the state of the heart, and it’s an essential and good procedure to get done.
Yet, some people have slight apprehensions if they are getting on the treadmill for the first time or wonder if it will cause some injury. Or there may be some inner worry that the doctor may discover something is wrong with their heart health.
If you sense you have any such anxiety, focus on the benefits of the test. Treadmill tests can provide valuable information on your cardiovascular health and fitness level, which can help your doctor identify areas for improvement and develop a personalized fitness plan.
If your doctor has set a date for your treadmill test, being prepared with our checklist below will help you get through your test physically, mentally, and medically.
There are some instructions you must be aware of generally – in addition to what your doctor tells you – so let’s go over these:
Aim to get more knowledge on what a treadmill test (TMT) is about. This test helps your doctor see how far your heart can take higher and higher stress levels.
Inform your doctor of any medical conditions, medications, or recent surgeries you have had. According to St. Charles Health System, “Tell your doctor about any medicines (including over-the-counter medications, herbs, and vitamins) you take.” This will help your doctor determine if you are physically ready for the test.
Know from your doctor who SHOULD NOT go in for a treadmill test. This way, you can remember to tell your doctor if you have some medical issues you had previously forgotten to talk about.
Talk to your doctor about any chronic ailments you may have. If you have illnesses such as obesity, cholesterol, diabetes, and hypertension – or hereditary factors – they can all combine and have a multiplicative effect on the heart. Let your doctor know about your current ailment management practices – like your diet to control diabetes, management of blood pressure symptoms, attempts to reduce cholesterol levels, and regularity in monitoring your obesity causes and effects.
Check blood sugar levels if you have diabetes. Your doctor may want to check your blood sugar levels before the treadmill test at least a couple of times. Make sure to inform your doctor if your blood sugar has been too high or too low of late.
Fast before the test. Depending on the type of treadmill test, you may need to fast before the test. Your doctor will provide specific instructions on what to do (especially if you have diabetes).
Take all usual medications as prescribed by your doctor. Do not change your medication regimen without consulting your doctor first. According to Harvard Health Publishing, “Your doctor may ask you to stop certain medications that can interfere with the heart’s response to exercise, like a beta blocker or digoxin, a day or more before the test.”
Start practicing interval training. You can do this by alternating between periods of high and low intensity walking. According to Denise Witman, writing in SunTech Med, “Daily gym routines aren’t necessary, but you should strive to have some type of daily activity, especially if you are sedentary.” This can help increase your endurance and prepare you for the treadmill test.
Maintain good form while practicing walking or running. Keep your shoulders relaxed, engage your core, and land softly on the balls of your feet.
Get support from a personal trainer if needed. Friends, family, or a personal trainer can help you stay motivated and on track with your training.
Ask your doctor again to explain what the treadmill test procedure is going to be. Even if you think you already know it, hearing his explanations just before the test will calm you – especially if your mind has been running riot or you are carrying any wrong perceptions.
Ask your doctor what treadmill stress test results will show. Don’t rely on what you’ve read about good and bad results. Your doctor will tell you what he is looking for as the passing grade which may be relevant in your case.
Avoid certain foods and drinks that can affect your heart rate, such as caffeine and alcohol, before the test.
Avoid smoking before the test, as this can affect your heart rate and make it more challenging to pass the test.
Wear comfortable clothing and shoes. According to the NJ Cardiovascular Institute, “Lightweight, breathable clothes and athletic sneakers are a good choice.” Women are usually advised to wear two-piece clothing.
Bring emergency medications if you have a medical condition that requires these. Inform the staff or doctor administering the test of any emergency medications you may need.
Bring reports of any previous cardiac studies you have had. According to Chesapeake Cardiac Care, you should carry any previous ECG reports, coronary angiography, and all other medical documents.
Bring a list of questions you have for your doctor or the staff administering the test. Putting down your list will make you feel in control of the process and quell any inner flutters. This list will also help you get the necessary information and feel more prepared.
Bring enough bottled water with you. You must drink plenty of water to stay hydrated before, during, and after the test.
Ask the doctor if you can warm up with stretching or limbering-up exercises before the test. These will loosen your joints and give you psychological readiness for the test.
Don’t overly pay attention to the devices you’ll wear during the test. Just forget you’re wearing them, and feel normal.
Your doctor may monitor your heart rate during the test using a separate heart rate monitor or the built-in monitor on the treadmill. These monitors will generate reports. Your doctor will help you stay within your target heart rate zone, so don’t worry.
Try to relax. Take it all as easy as walking or jogging in the park. According to Cleveland Clinic, “It’s natural to be nervous about heart testing, but feeling anxious can affect your results.” Why worry when you have such qualified medical people around you?
After the test, follow any post-test instructions provided by your doctor or the staff administering the test. This may include resting, drinking plenty of water, or avoiding certain activities for some time.
Make sure to give your body enough time to rest and recover. If you sense any discomfort, talk to your doctor about it immediately. Don’t try to wait and see if it goes away on its own. Clear any doubts, fears, or physical distress if it lingers.
The value of a treadmill test is that it helps your doctor pick up any stress signals from your heart early enough to administer a cure for them. Even better, if you get an annual heart checkup done, including the treadmill test along with other heart tests, you’ll always be safe and at ease and under your doctor’s vigilance. Stay heart-healthy. Be a Zinda Dil.