Also called an exercise electrocardiogram, treadmill test, graded exercise test, or stress ECG, an exercise stress test can tell your doctor how well your heart handles physical activity. You typically walk on a treadmill or pedal a stationary bike while your doctor watches your heart rate and blood pressure.
Your doctor uses this test to:
See if your heart gets enough blood when you’re physically active
See how likely you are to have coronary heart disease
Check for abnormal heart rhythms
Find out how well your heart medications are working or see if any procedures you’ve had done have improved the blood flow in your heart vessels
Help figure out a safe exercise program for you
How Should I Prepare for the Exercise Stress Test?
Your doctor will give you specific instructions on what to do before your stress test. If you have diabetes, ask them if you should take your medication before the test.
If you take insulin to control your blood sugar, ask your doctor how much medication you should take the day of the test and if you should eat a light meal.
If you take pills to control your blood sugar, you may be told to wait and take your medication after the test.
If you have a glucose monitor, bring it with you to check your blood sugar levels before and after your exercise stress test. If you think your blood sugar is low, tell the lab technician right away.
Don’t drink or eat foods with caffeine for 24 hours before the test. Caffeine can affect the results of your test.
You may be told not to take certain heart or blood pressure medications the morning of the test that could affect your results. If you have any questions about your medications, ask your doctor. Don’t stop taking any medication without talking with your doctor first.
If you use an inhaler for your breathing, you may need to bring it with you.
On the day of the test, wear soft-soled shoes that are good for walking and comfortable clothes. Don’t bring any valuables.
Benefits of Group Therapy for Mental Health
Probably the biggest advantage of group therapy is helping a patient realize that he or she is not alone — that there are other people who have similar problems. This is often a revelation, and a huge relief, to the person.
Being in group therapy can also help you develop new skills to relate to others. The dynamics of a group often mirror those of society in general, and learning how to interact with the other members of the group can help you in your relationships outside the group. In addition, the members of the group who have the same problem(s) can support each other, and may offer suggestions to dealing with a particular problem that you may not have thought of.
You may be uncomfortable at first when it comes time to discuss your problems in front of strangers. However, the fact that others are facing the same type of situation as you may help you open up and discuss your feelings. In addition, everything that takes place within the group therapy session is kept confidential.
What to Expect in Group Therapy
Group therapy sessions vary, but the basic format is a small group of patients meet on a regular basis to discuss their feelings and problems and provide mutual support. Unlike self-help support groups, sessions are guided by a professional therapist who is specially trained in group therapy. The therapist acts as moderator and may suggest a “theme” or topic for the group’s discussion. Sometimes, the therapist will allow the group members to pick the topic for the session.
As part of the group therapy session, members try to change their old ways of behaving in favor of newer, more productive ways. Typically, there is a great deal of interaction and discussion among the members of the group. The members may also undertake specific activities, such as addressing certain fears and anxieties.