An exercise stress test is a screening tool used to test the effect of exercise on your heart. The test involves exercising to your maximal effort on a treadmill while your blood pressure, heart rate and rhythm are closely monitored.
Why is this test performed?
- Determine your likelihood of having coronary artery disease
- Identify abnormal heart rhythms
- Evaluate the effectiveness of your cardiac treatment plan
- Help you develop a safe exercise program
Can I eat or drink on the day of the test?
- Yes. However, DO NOT eat or drink anything except water for 4 hours before the test.
- Avoid caffeinated products (cola, Mountain Dew, chocolate products, coffee or tea) for 24 hours before the test, as caffeine will interfere with the results of the test.
DO NOT SMOKE ON THE DAY OF THE TEST, as nicotine will interfere with the results of your test.
Should I take my medications the day of the test?
Since many over-the-counter medications contain caffeine (such as diet pills, No Doz, Excedrin and Anacin), DO NOT take any over-the-counter medication that contains caffeine for 24 hours before the test. Ask your physician, pharmacist or nurse if you have questions about other medications that may contain caffeine.
Discontinue medications as directed by your physician
These medications may include:
Coreg, Toprol, Lopressor, Metoprolol, Atenolol, Tenormin, Inderal, Propranolol, Diltiazem, Cartia, Verapamil, Diltia XT, Cardizem, Dilacor, Calan
Do not discontinue any medication without first talking with your physician.
Guidelines for people with diabetes
If you take insulin to control your blood sugar, ask your physician what amount of your medication you should take the day of the test. Often, your physician will tell you to take only half of your usual morning dose and to eat a light meal 4 hours before the test. If you take pills to control your blood sugar, do not take your medication until after the test is complete.
Do not take your diabetes medication and skip a meal before the test.
If you own a glucose monitor, bring it with you to check your blood sugar levels before and after your test. If you think your blood sugar is low, tell the lab personnel immediately. Plan to eat and take your diabetes medication following your test.
What should I wear on the day of the test?
Please avoid wearing 1 piece dress or overalls and wear or bring comfortable clothes and shoes for walking.
What happens during the test?
Your test will take place in the EvergreenHealth Cardiovascular Imaging Center and will be supervised by a registered nurse or exercise physiologist.
Your chest will be prepared with alcohol (shaving may be required) and 10 electrodes will be placed. The electrodes are attached to a Stress EKG monitor that charts your heart’s electrical activity during the test.
Before you start exercising, we will perform a resting EKG, measure your resting heart rate and take your blood pressure.
Once preparations are complete, the lab personnel will ask you to start exercising and will gradually increase the intensity of exercise. You will be asked to continue exercising until you are at your maximum level of capacity.
As the test progresses, the lab personnel will ask how you are feeling. Please tell them if you feel chest, arm or jaw pain or discomfort; short of breath, dizzy, lightheaded or if you have any other unusual symptoms.
The lab personnel will watch for any changes with your blood pressure or EKG that suggests the test should be stopped.
After the test, we will continue to monitor your heart rate, blood pressure and EKG until you have returned to your normal.
How will I feel during the test?
You will be encouraged to exercise until you are exhausted. It is normal for your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate and perspiration to increase.
How long does the test take?
The appointment will take about 60 minutes. The actual exercise time is usually between 7 and 12 minutes.
How do I get the results of my test?
After a cardiologist has reviewed your test, the results will be sent to your primary care physician and or you will be called directly with results.