They say one should always check with their doctor before starting an exercise regimen, especially if you are older and have not exercised in a long time…as in since high school, etc.
That would be me; the one who stayed in shape up until her 30s and then “let it all go.”
On top of the no exercise, and bad eating habits, add the medications I was on for mental health and I have one out of whack system. Also, I had been having odd panic attack symptoms the last several months, so I decided to play it safe.
I went to my PCP and told him what I was experiencing and that I wanted to start running again. He said he doubted anything was wrong, but he also said it would be good to check since I wanted to start running and due to the high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart attack history in my family.
Today was my exercise electrocardiogram test or EKG stress test for short. This post is for anyone who is going to have an EKG stress test and wants to know what to expect.
Pre-Test (Morning of)
This morning I got up at 7AM and had a simple breakfast and water. My test was at 11:30AM and you cannot have any food, liquid, or caffeine during the four hours before the test. I had a small spray bottle (travel size) filled with water that I spritzed my mouth with (but did not swallow) as going four hours without liquid can make the mouth dry.
I wore running shoes, yoga pants and a loose tank top since they would be placing EKG stickers and lines on me to gauge my heart and blood pressure. I did wear deodorant as it doesn’t affect the test.
The nurse had me lie down and then placed EKG lines on my chest, wrists, and ankles. Then the nurse took my resting blood pressure and heart rate. After getting that, the nurse had me sit up, moved the lines so I wouldn’t trip over them and had me get on the treadmill.
While on the treadmill, before starting, the nurse explained what would happen and what I was seeing on the screen. The treadmill would go into a slant and start slow. I was told it was best to hold onto the bar at the front of the treadmill and take long strides. Every 2-3 minutes the treadmill would get faster and slant a bit higher, as if walking uphill.
The machine showed my heart rate and blood pressure. The nurse explained what the target heart rate is for a person based on age and that my blood pressure would adjust with the more exertion I put out. I was also told that the goal wasn’t to “outrun” the treadmill but to see how I held up under the duress.
Basically, no one outruns the treadmill. It can always go faster. 🙂
The initial start was slow, almost too slow as I was almost tripping over my feet. About 3 minutes in the nurse increased the speed of the treadmill and the slant a bit more. Think of it as a fast walk but not quite running speed. Another few minutes and the nurse bumped the speed up more, definitely running speed. I lasted about 1 minute..this gal is out of shape!
During the test the nurse kept me informed of my heart rate and blood pressure and said it actually all looked great. The nurse also talked to me during the test about all sorts of things, most likely to relax me and keep “distracted.” We talked about places around the city, time off from work, dogs, etc. Pretty much whatever came to mind.
In all, I was on the treadmill about 10 minutes. (It felt great to run!) I was definitely out of breath by the time the test ended, and that is what they want in the test. They need to exert you to your limits to see if your heart is pumping properly.
After the test was over, the nurse slowed the treadmill gradually (they don’t want you jumping off). Then I sat down and the nurse took my blood pressure three different times to see how my heart slowed down.
That was it! The results now go to my doctor.
The nurse was kind enough to take this after photo of me. Yup, me in all my glory! LOL! Ha ha! Boy do I need to get back in shape!
After the photo was taken, the nurse removed all the wires and I was free to leave. I grabbed the bottle of water I took with me, knowing I could drink right after, and guzzled it! Then I came home and had lunch.
The entire test, from set up to break down, took about 30 minutes. They told me one hour but I am guessing that is leaving room in case someone has issues (health issues) during the test.
Now to set up my running and get back into shape plan!