Exercise Stress Test

What is a stress test? Do I need a stress test?

A stress test (also called a treadmill test or exercise test) helps your doctor find out how well your heart handles work. As your body works harder during the test, it requires more fuel and your heart has to pump more blood. The test can show if there is a lack of blood supply through the arteries that go to the heart. Taking a stress test also helps your doctor know the kind and level of exercise that’s right for you.

What happens during the test?

  • You are hooked up to equipment to monitor your heart.
  • You walk at a slow pace on the treadmill.
  • It tilts so you feel like you’re going up a small hill.
  • The speeds are changed to make you walk faster.
  • You may be asked to breathe into a tube for a couple of minutes.
  • You can stop the test at any time if you need to.
  • Afterwards, you will sit or lie down and your heart and blood pressure will be checked.

What is monitored during the test?

  • Your heart rate
  • Your breathing
  • Your blood pressure
  • Your electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)
  • How tired you feel

What equipment is used?

The electrocardiogram or ECG machine will record your heartbeat. Tiny wires or electrodes will be hooked up to your chest and arms or shoulders. Near the end, you may breathe into a mouthpiece that will measure the air you breathe out.

Is there a risk?

There is a very little risk no more than if you walked fast or jogged up a big hill. Medical professionals are on hand in case anything unusual happens during the test.

Stress Test: Other Questions


How long do I have to be on the treadmill?

The average Stress Test will take approx. 6-9 minutes. However, people who are in better physical condition will need to stay on the treadmill for a longer period of time. We ask patients to exercise to full fatigue for optimal results.

What information does a stress test give?

Stress testing will give us information about your functional capacity, or activities you can perform on a daily basis. The stress test measures your functional capacity in units called Metabolic Equivalents (METS). Consequently, the longer someone can stay on the treadmill, the higher the METS or functional capacity. The test will also give us information about the blood flow to your heart. If during your test you develop chest pain or abnormalities in your EKG, this may indicate Ischemia or lack of blood flow to your heart. Further testing may be performed at that point to determine the severity of the abnormality.

What should I wear to walk on the treadmill?

We ask that patients wear sneakers, loose fitting comfortable clothes, and preferably a shirt with buttons.

What do I need to know before I have my stress test? (Medication, food, drinks, lotions/powders on chest)?

  • Before your stress test, you should take all medications unless otherwise told by your physician.
  • You should eat a light meal about 4 hours before your test (2 hrs. if Diabetic)
  • Do not apply any lotions, powder or deodorant to the chest area.
  • Bring an updated list of all your medications.
  • Expect your chest to be sponged lightly with a mild abrasive, followed by placement of 10 electrodes.
  • The electrodes will serve as hook-up for your EKG. This will allow our physician Act (PA) to monitor your EKG for changes.