Exercise stress test

Exercise stress testing uses electrocardiogram (ECG) monitoring to measure your heart’s performance and capacity whilst exercising on a treadmill.

What is it?

Used in a similar way to a Stress Echocardiogram, an exercise stress ECG tests for any problems with your coronary arteries. Some heart symptoms or problems occur only during physical activity, especially aerobic style exercise which increases the blood supply to your heart. This test requires the patient to undergo an electrocardiogram (ECG) whilst exercising on a treadmill to monitor changes in blood pressure levels and heart rate.

Your cardiologist might order an exercise stress ECG to assess your heart rate and blood pressure response to exercise to help determine the likelihood of artery blockages or narrowing.

  • The stress test usually takes between 30-45 minutes but we recommend allowing an hour from preparation through to cool-down recovery time.
  • You will be asked to undress to your waist (a gown can be provided) and a cardiac sonographer will attach small metal disks (ECG electrodes) to your chest which will be used to monitor your heart during the test.
  • Before you start exercising, the cardiac physiologist will record your blood pressure, pulse, and your heart’s electrical activity in a resting phase.
  • Next you will be asked to walk on a treadmill and we will gently adjust grade and speed at regular intervals in order to increase the intensity and achieve the most accurate results. It’s important to exercise as long as you can to assist with diagnosis and determining appropriate treatment options.
  • Afterwards you will have time to cool down and recover and be able to return to normal eating routines and activities.
  • Experienced medical staff are in attendance throughout your test to manage any rare complications.

How should I prepare?

  1. Wear loose, comfortable clothing and comfortable walking shoes, bearing in mind you will need to undress to the waist (you may request a gown if you like), separate shirt and pants are advised

  2. We recommend only having a light meal on the day of your test and not to drink coffee, energy drinks or alcohol or smoke for 2 hours beforehand

  3. Please bring a list of current medications with you

  4. You should consult your doctor prior to the test as they can advise if you should cease any of your regular medications during the test that may interfere with the ECG results.

  5. Avoid applying lotions, perfumes or powders to the skin and remove any jewellery to assist with adhering the electrodes

Patient taking part in a exercise stress ECG test

What happens next?

The results will be reviewed by a cardiologist and a full report will be sent to your referring doctor who will be able to advise you if a follow-up course of action is required.

Patient information

Click below to download patient information about exercise stress test
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