Why Is Exercise Used To Stress The Heart In A Patient With Angina

Exercise tests are done to see if a patient has enough oxygen getting to his heart. It tells us how likely it is (the probability) that a patient has coronary heart disease. Exercise is used to provoke a problem, to try to reproduce what patients feel when they exercise or exert themselves and increase their heart rate.

Exercise is a way to stress the heart by getting the patient to cycle or walk fast on a treadmill. The faster the heart beats and the higher the pressure it generates in order to push blood around the body to the muscles of the legs (the biggest muscles in the body), the more oxygen it needs. If the heart has a normal blood supply (the heart arteries are normal), then the patient should not get any angina while exercising and there should be no changes in the electrical recording of the heart (ECG) during the test (true negative).

A patient with blocked heart arteries may get chest discomfort and there may also be abnormalities in the ECG (true positive).

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