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Exercise Treadmill

What is an Exercise Treadmill Test?

An exercise treadmill test is done to measure the heart's ability to respond to exercise. To do the test, a child walks on a treadmill while a technician monitors his or her heart rate and blood pressure. The child may also be asked to breathe through a special tube during the test. The test is painless and complications from the test are very rare.

How do I prepare for it?

On the day of the test, your child will come to the Pediatric Cardiology Clinic. He or she should wear tennis shoes and loose, comfortable clothes. It is best that only a small breakfast or lunch is eaten at least one hour before the test. Children usually do better during the test when their parents are not present. You may stay with your child during the test if you feel it is necessary, but to obtain a better test result you are encouraged to allow your child to complete the test by him or herself. The test starts by having the child walk very slowly up a small incline on a treadmill. Every three minutes, the technician will increase the speed and incline on the machine. Your child will be encouraged to exercise as long as possible and may even run on the treadmill. The test will end when your child is too tired, if there are severe symptoms, or if any problems are noted with the heart rate or blood pressure. After exercising, a ten minute slow walk is done on the treadmill during which the heart rate and blood pressure are monitored.

When the ten minute slow walk period is done, the test is finished. Most of the time, a heart doctor will be able to look at the results right away and discuss them with parents. Sometimes, the test is read later in the day. In this case, parents will be called and test results discussed over the phone.

What if I have questions?

If you have additional questions you may contact the Michigan Congenital Heart Center at the University of Michigan at (734) 764-5176.

2006: Information reviewed and approved by Laura Bell, RN, MSN, PNP Pediatric Cardiac Surgery and Lynda Dettling RN, BSN.


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University of Michigan Health System Cardiovascular Center
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