Cardiac Exercise Stress Testing

A Cardiac Stress Test ECG may also be referred to as an Exercise ECG, Stress Test, or Treadmill Test. A Cardiac Stress Test ECG is used to evaluate how your heart works during exercise. The test is used to assess general heart health. It may detect coronary artery disease, irregular heartbeats, or poor physical fitness. The test may be used for people with chest pain, shortness of breath, lightheadedness or abnormal heart rhythms.

What you can expect

You should not eat, drink caffeine or alcohol, or smoke for three hours before your test. You should tell your doctor if you have taken Viagra within the prior 24 hours. You should wear loose fitting clothes to your procedure. Before the test starts, your baseline heart rate and blood pressure will be recorded. Several small patches (electrodes) will be applied to your skin at different locations on your body. A blood pressure cuff will remain on your arm throughout the procedure.

With the equipment in place, you will exercise on a treadmill. Your pace and resistance on the equipment will gradually increase. Your blood pressure will be recorded throughout the test. The ECG will continually record the electrical activity of your heart during the exercise.

If a person cannot run on a treadmill due to physical limitations, a chemical can be injected to safely raise the heart rate and complete the test (for more information refer to Nuclear Medicine). Stress tests are generally safe, however, if a person experiences difficulty, prompt attention is provided by nearby medical professionals and equipment. Your doctor will review the test results with you.

Preparation for Exam

Prior to exam:

  • Twenty-four (24) hours before: Avoid any vasodilators such as Viagra
  • Three (3) hours before: Do not smoke, eat or drink caffeine or alcohol

Time of exam:

  • Wear loose fitting clothing
  • Wear comfortable running/walking shoes