A stress test, also called an exercise stress test, shows how your heart works during physical activity. Because exercise makes your heart pump harder and faster, an exercise stress test can reveal problems with blood flow within your heart.
A stress test usually involves monitoring heart rhythm and blood pressure while you are on Treadmill test. Your doctor may recommend a stress test if you have signs or symptoms of coronary artery disease or an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia). The test may also guide treatment decisions, measure the effectiveness of treatment or determine the severity if you’ve already been diagnosed with a heart condition.
Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to prepare for your stress test.
You may be asked not to eat for 3 hrs before a stress test. You may need to avoid caffeine the day before and the day of the test.
Ask your doctor if it’s safe for you to continue taking all of your prescription and over-the-counter medications before the test, because they might interfere with certain stress tests.
Your stress test will take around an hour, including both your prep time and the time it takes to perform the actual test. The actual test takes only around 15-20 minutes.
A nurse or technician will place sticky patches (electrodes) on your chest, legs and arms. Some areas may need to be shaved to help them stick. The electrodes have wires connected to an electrocardiogram machine, which records the electrical signals that trigger your heartbeats. A cuff on your arm checks your blood pressure during the test.
You’ll probably exercise on a treadmill, starting slowly. As the test progresses, the exercise gets more difficult. You can use the railing on the treadmill for balance. Don’t hang on tightly, as this may skew the results.
You continue exercising until your heart rate has reached a set target or until you develop symptoms that don’t allow you to continue. These signs and symptoms may include:
You and your doctor will discuss your safe limits for exercise. You may stop the test anytime you’re too uncomfortable to continue exercising.
After you stop exercising, you may be asked to stand still for several seconds and then lie down for a period of time with the monitors in place. Your doctor can watch for any abnormalities as your heart rate and breathing return to normal.
When your exercise stress test is complete, you may return to your normal activities unless your doctor tells you otherwise.