Cardiac Stress Testing

The Exercise Stress Test

The heart performs differently at rest than it does during exercise. An exercise stress test, also known as a treadmill test, is designed to help your doctor learn how your heart performs during exercise or other activities that would make the heart work harder. The term “stress” is used simply to distinguish the difference between a resting heart and a heart that is more actively pumping. As activity increases during the test, more oxygen is needed and the heart responds by pumping more blood. This test can show if there is reduced blood flow to the arteries. It also helps doctorslearn the limitations of exercise appropriate for each individual patient.

What happens during the exercise stress test?

  • Your heart rate, breathing, blood pressure and electrocardiogram (ECG) will be monitored during the test.
  • You will begin by walking at a slow pace on the treadmill. The speed of the treadmill and the incline will gradually increase to make it feel as though your are going up a small hill.
  • You may stop the test at any time should you feel uncomfortable.
  • There’s very little risk for healthy patients in taking the test – no more than if you were to walk fast up a flight of stairs.