DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I just read that the treadmill stress test is no longer recommended. What’s the reasoning behind this? I’ve had the test before, and it seems like a good way to find heart problems.
ANSWER: A treadmill stress test can be helpful if a doctor suspects someone has heart problems or if a person is at high risk for heart disease. However, this test is no longer recommended for people at low risk for heart disease who do not have symptoms. For that group, the test is not needed because assessing risk factors such as age, smoking, cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes and family history has been shown to be nearly as effective in identifying an individual’s potential for heart disease.
A treadmill stress test gathers information about how well your heart works as you exercise. Because exercise makes your heart pump harder and faster than it does during most daily activities, the test may be able to reveal problems within your heart that might not be noticeable otherwise.