An exercise ECG (also called ergometry or exercise electrocardiogram) is a procedure for examining heart function during physical exertion. It involves gradually increasing the load on a bicycle while simultaneously measuring the heart rate and cardiac activity.
The exercise ECG is an important test to detect heart problems. It is often performed when coronary artery disease is suspected. This is atherosclerotic narrowing of the coronary arteries that supply oxygen to the heart muscle. When these narrowings cause the heart to not receive enough oxygen, symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath and fatigue can occur.
During the test, the load is gradually increased to put more stress on the heart. In the process, the heart rate is increased and the body requires more oxygen. By measuring the heart's activity, the doctor can determine whether the heart is sufficiently supplied with oxygen or whether there are signs of oxygen deficiency.
The stress ECG is usually a safe and painless examination. However, some patients may experience temporary symptoms such as dizziness, headache or nausea. In rare cases, more serious complications such as cardiac arrhythmias or a heart attack may also occur, but these are extremely rare.