Exercise Stress Test

An Exercise Stress Test, also known as a treadmill test, is used to determine how well your heart responds during times when it’s working the hardest. It involves walking on a treadmill while your electrocardiogram (EKG), blood pressure and heart rate are being monitored.

This test is primarily used to help your doctor determine if your heart receives enough oxygen and proper blood flow when it needs it most; such as, when you are exercising. It can be ordered for people who have been experiencing chest pains or other symptoms of coronary heart disease (also called coronary artery disease).

An exercise stress test may also be used to help determine your level of health, especially if you are starting a new exercise program. This allows your doctor to learn what level of exercise you can safely handle.

How does the procedure work?

Before you begin your exercising, you’ll be hooked up to the EKG machine. Several sticky pads will be attached to your skin under your clothes. Your doctor or nurse will check your heart rate and breathing before you begin exercising.

You’ll start off by walking slowly on a treadmill. The speed and grade of the treadmill will be increased as the test continues. If you experience any difficulties – especially chest pains, weakness or fatigue – you may ask to stop the test.

When your doctor is satisfied with your results, you’ll be able to stop exercising. Your heart rate and breathing will continue to be monitored for a short while afterwards.

How do I prepare for an Exercise Stress Test?

  • If you take beta-blocker or calcium channel blocker medication (Inderal (Propanolol), Toprol (Metoprolol), Norvasc (Amlodipine), etc.) you should specifically ask your physician about temporary discontinuation.
  • If you are diabetic, check with your physician about specific instructions for your diabetes medication on the day of the exam.
  • Tell your doctor about any medicines you take (including over-the-counter, herbs and vitamins). Your Provider may ask you not to take them before the test. You may continue all other medications, unless instructed otherwise.
  • Do not eat, drink or smoke for two (2) hours before the test.
  • You should avoid caffeine (caffeinated as well as decaffeinated coffee, hot and cold tea, caffeinated soft drinks, energy drinks, chocolate and medications containing caffeine, etc.) for up to 48 hours before your examination.
  • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing and walking shoes with rubber soles. Shorts or sweatpants and jogging or tennis shoes are good choices.
  • If you have problems with your knees, hips or keeping your balance, tell your doctor as this may limit your ability to perform the exercise needed for this procedure.
  • You should wear comfortable clothing and walking shoes.
  • Do not apply oil, lotion, or cream to your skin the day of the exam.
  • If you use an inhaler for asthma or other breathing problems, bring it to the test and make sure the health care team monitoring your stress test knows that you use an inhaler.
  • Leave jewelry and other metallic accessories at home or remove them prior to the exam. Such objects may interfere with the procedure.

Exercise Stress Tests at San Tan Cardiovascular Center

After the test, you’ll be given water and allowed to rest. If your blood pressure rises during the test, your nurse may continue to monitor your blood pressure.

At your next appointment, your Physician will review the results with you. The test could reveal conditions like irregular heart rhythms or other symptoms that indicate coronary artery disease, such as blocked arteries.

If your Physician determines that you may have coronary artery disease or other heart problems, they may begin treatments or order more tests, such as a Nuclear Stress Test.

If you cannot keep your appointment, please give us 24 hours notice by calling the office.

How do I get started?

Contact San Tan Cardiovascular Center today to make an appointment with one of our healthcare providers.

At this appointment:

  • we will review your medical history, discuss your symptoms and perform a non-invasive, diagnostic test to further determine your medical condition,
  • any pertinent testing that needs to be done beforehand will also be ordered at this time.

Our billing department will then contact your health insurance company to obtain prior authorization.  Upon receiving insurance authorization, the test will be scheduled.