Some heart problems may be more likely to show up during strenuous exercise. That’s why doctors may recommend an exercise stress test for patients with signs or symptoms of heart disease and/or greater risk for certain heart conditions.
An exercise stress test is one of the most widely used diagnostic and preventive cardiology tools available. Our cardiology team closely monitors patients during these tests to ensure their safety.
How does the exercise stress test work?
Because exercise makes our hearts pump harder and faster than during most daily activities, this test can detect heart conditions that would not be noticeable otherwise. An exercise stress test, which uses a treadmill or stationary bike, checks how well your heart is working during strenuous physical activity.
While you exercise, an electrocardiogram (also known as EKG) measures the heart’s electrical activity. Painless electrodes are placed at specific locations on the chest, arms and legs before you start your exercise.
While you walk or pedal, your breathing, blood pressure and heart rhythm are all monitored. This data creates a visual representation of the heart’s electrical activity. This can reveal if you have one or more of several heart conditions. Sometimes disorders not related to the heart are also detected.
What do stress tests look for?
A stress test can examine and/or reveal:
- An irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia).
- Coronary artery disease (including artery blockages).
- Heart muscle damage.
- Safe exercise levels if there’s a heart condition.
- Cardiovascular health (including a disease, injury and congenital issues).
What to expect during an exercise stress test
The stress test is a safe, procedure held in our office. The procedure typically lasts no more than 60 minutes. Time spent on the treadmill or bike is usually between seven and 12 minutes, although this varies by patient.
To get the most useful results, plan to:
- Avoid caffeine for at least four hours.
- Skip nicotine products for four to six hours before your test.
- Inform your doctor of all medications you are currently taking and any physical restrictions that may cause pain or discomfort during the test.
- Wear comfortable clothing and shoes for exercise.
Our exercise stress test locations
Call to schedule an appointment for exercise stress testing: