About Exercise Cardiac Stress Tests
An exercise stress test is also called a stress electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) or a treadmill test. The objective of the stress test is to raise the heart rate by walking on a treadmill to determine if blood flow is reduced in the arteries that supply blood to the heart.
Preparing for the Test
- Generally it is recommended to avoid eating or drinking for four hours before the test and to avoid caffeine for 24 hours prior to the test.
- Plan to wear comfortable walking clothes and shoes
- Bring a list of medications that you are currently taking
- You may be asked to not take some of your medications. It is important to check with your doctor to determine which medications are okay to take before the test.
What to Expect During the Test
A stress lab technician and cardiologist are present during the test. Small adhesive pads are placed on the upper body to monitor heart rate and EKG as you walk on the treadmill. The treadmill progresses through a series of stages, gradually increasing in speed and incline. The treadmill can be slowed down or stopped at any time during the test. Communicate how you are feeling to the technician and cardiologist during the test so the treadmill can be adjusted accordingly if necessary. Blood pressure, heart rate, and EKG are frequently monitored before, during and after the test. The entire test generally takes approximately: 1 hour.
After the Test
After walking on the treadmill and resting appropriately the test is complete. You may return to your normal routine including eating and drinking.