What is an Exercise Stress Test?

The stress test, also known as a treadmill test or exercise test, is performed to help doctors find out how well your heart responds when it is working its hardest. As your body works harder, it will require more oxygen, so the heart must pump more blood, and the test can show if the blood supply is reduced.

How is an exercise stress test performed?

You will be hooked up to an electrocardiogram machine, and electrodes will be attached directly to your skin. The doctor may have you breathe into a tube to test your lungs’ strength and check your heart rate and breathing before you begin exercising.

You will start by slowly walking on a treadmill as the speed and level of the treadmill will be increased. If you experience chest pain, weakness, or fatigue, you may ask to stop the test.

Once your doctor gets the results, you will be able to stop, and your heart rate and breathing will continue to be monitored for a while afterward.

Why is the Exercise Stress Test performed?

A stress test helps diagnose and evaluate certain heart conditions such as ischemic heart disease, heart valve disease, or heart failure and experience shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, and a rapid or irregular heartbeat.

Doctors will determine if the heart receives enough oxygen and enough blood flow when it needs it most. An exercise stress test may also help determine the quality of health. This procedure allows your doctor to learn what level of exercise you can safely handle.

You should talk to your doctor about the risk of performing an exercise stress test if you are a smoker over 40 years old.


  • The doctor will perform a physical exam and ask about your medical history.
  • Report to your doctor about any conditions or symptoms, including stiff joints from arthritis, diabetes
  • Make to wear comfortable clothes.
  • Avoid eating, smoking, or drinking caffeinated beverages for three hours before the test.
  • Avoid certain medications.
  • Report to your doctor about any chest pains or other complications you notice on the day of the test.

The risks of an exercise stress test

Stress tests are generally considered safe if they are performed under trained medical professional supervision.

However, your risk of experiencing some reactions during the test is low; there are some rare risks, such as:

  • Chest pain
  • Fainting
  • Heart attack
  • Irregular heartbeat

After an exercise stress test

You will be provided with water and asked to rest. A few days after the test, your doctor will review the results with you. The examination could reveal irregular heart rhythms or other symptoms that indicate coronary artery disease (blocked arteries).

If you may have coronary artery disease or other heart conditions, You will be prompted to perform more tests and begin treatments.

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