Researchers at Hopkins University have found that treadmill testing is a useful way of pinpointing those at risk of heart problems. Many people who develop heart disease have no obvious symptoms like chest pain or breathlessness. According to researchers, treadmill testing can show up hidden weaknesses long before heart problems become obvious.
They report on a study of nearly 2,000 men and 3,000 women given treadmill testing and then followed up for 20 years. In the treadmill test, the person runs on the treadmill while their heart rate, blood pressure, and the electrical activity of the heart are measured. In other words, the heart's functioning when challenged is assessed.
They found that those who had abnormal results on the test were about twice as likely to die of heart disease compared to those with normal results. Many of these people had high cholesterol, but no other signs of heart disease. The researchers suggest that the treadmill test could be a useful addition to the standard battery of tests for heart disease.