A care provider and patient during a stress test

A stress test is performed while you are walking on a treadmill. Leads (cables) are attached to your chest so we can monitor your EKG (electrocardiogram) while you exercise. We will also be monitoring your blood pressure, heart rate, and heart rhythm before, during, and after the test.

Remember this is called a STRESS test because we will have you walk at higher and faster levels of exertion. This is because many heart problems are only noticed when a person is active or exercising.

This is a safe, reliable, and non-invasive test. A doctor must order this test.

Why did my doctor order this test?

There are several reasons why we perform stress tests. The most common reason is because a patient has complained of chest pain or discomfort.

Sometimes we are asked to perform this test because a patient has complained of shortness of breath, dizziness, lack of energy, chest tightness, arm and/or jaw pain during exercise, or perhaps the patient wants to start an exercise program.

We also test people with known heart disease to see if their medications are working correctly and/or to let them know how much activity they can safely do at home.

How should I prepare for this test?

It is best that you do NOT apply any creams, oils, or powder to your chest on the day of the test. These tend to make it difficult for the therapist to apply the electrodes to your chest.

  • flat, soft-soled shoes (running shoes if possible);
  • socks;
  • exercise shorts, track pants, or comfortable slacks; and
  • a list of any current medications you are taking along with the dosages.

Women should wear a comfortable fitting bra. Corsets, girdles, or full length slips should not be worn. Please arrive at least 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment so you can be registered. Always bring your health card to any medical appointment.

Can I eat before the test?

Yes, a light meal will be fine, but we ask that you do not drink coffee or tea, or smoke before the test.

Can I take my medications before the test?

This is always a tricky question. Your physician will advise you on what medications, if any, to take before your test. If you are unsure, please call your physician three days before the test to check, as some medications will need to be stopped up to 48 hours prior to testing.

How long will the test take?

The stress test will take approximately 45 minutes. This does not mean you will be exercising that long. This includes the pre-test procedure, talking with the doctor, the exercise, and the recovery period.

Why should I have my test at the hospital?

During every cardiac stress test a doctor and therapist will be with you. In case of an emergency, there is no better place to be than in a hospital.

How will I know how I did?

The heart doctor that is performing the test will tell you after the test how you did. The doctor and therapist will be happy to answer your questions before you leave. A detailed report will be typed up and sent to your own doctor.