Cardiac Stress Test
(Exercise Stress Test; Exercise Tolerance Test)
Reasons for Test
- Evaluate whether complaints of chest pain are related to your heart
- Determine if arteries to your heart have blockages or narrowing (coronary heart disease [CHD])
- Identify an irregular heart rhythm, or see if you pass out during or after exercise
- Monitor your heart's response to treatment or procedures
- Determine a safe level of activity before the start of an exercise plan
- Plan rehabilitation after a heart attack
|EKGs Revealing Cardiac Muscle Damage|
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- Developing chest pain
- Developing an irregular heart rhythm
- Having a heart attack, but this is extremely rare
What to Expect
Prior to Test
- Your doctor may do a physical exam. Your medicines will be reviewed. Some medicines should not be taken before the test.
- Your doctor may need to examine your heart. This can be done with:
- Do not eat or drink products with caffeine for 12-24 hours before the test.
- Do not eat or drink anything except water for four hours before the test.
- Do not smoke for several hours before the test.
- Wear comfortable clothing and walking shoes or exercise sneakers.
- Bring a list of your current medicines to the test.
- If you have diabetes, bring your glucose monitor to the test.
Description of Test
How Long Will It Take?
Will It Hurt?
- EKG changes that show low oxygen supply to the heart
- You develop chest pain or trouble breathing, especially if associated with EKG changes
- Nuclear stress test results that show areas of your heart that are not receiving enough oxygen during exercise
- Failure to properly increase heart rate and/or blood pressure during exercise
Call Your Doctor
- Chest pain
- Pounding in the chest
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Feeling extremely tired or having trouble breathing
American Academy of Family Physicians http://www.familydoctor.org
American Heart Association http://www.heart.org
Heart Rhythm Society http://www.hrsonline.org
Canadian Cardiovascular Society http://www.ccs.ca
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada http://www.heartandstroke.com
Darrow M. Ordering and understanding the exercise stress test. Am Fam Physician. 1999:59(2):401-410. Available at: http://www.aafp.org/afp/1999/0115/p401.html. Accessed January 23, 2013.
Exercise stress test. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/SymptomsDiagnosisofHeartAttack/Exercise-Stress-Test%5FUCM%5F307474%5FArticle.jsp. Updated January 2, 2013. Accessed January 23, 2013.
Tierny LM, McPhee SJ, et al. Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment. 45th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2006.
- Reviewer: Michael J. Fucci, DO
- Review Date: 09/2012 -
- Update Date: 01/23/2013 -