An exercise stress test is a screening tool to test the effect of exercise on your heart. The test gives a general sense of how healthy your heart is.
This test can rule out a diagnosis of cardiovascular heart disease, assess your level of conditioning or fitness, monitor your heart rate and blood pressure response to exercise and assess for any heart arrhythmias. The Treadmill EKG Stress Test has become one of the standard diagnostic cardiac tools, with approximately 10 million performed each year in the United States.
Patients with coronary artery blockages may have minimal symptoms and an unremarkable or unchanged EKG while at rest. However, symptoms and signs of heart disease may become unmasked by exposing the heart to the stress of controlled exercise. All EKG stress testing is performed with the appropriate resuscitative equipment available, if necessary.
How Should I Prepare for the Test?
- You should continue all medications unless instructed otherwise.
- Wear comfortable shoes and loose clothing to allow exercise.
- If you have diabetes and are taking insulin, ask caregivers if you need to change the amount of insulin that you are taking.
- Do not apply lotions, oils or powders to the chest area.
- Tell your doctor if you are taking sildenafil citrate (Viagra) Cialis or Levitra and have taken a dose within the past 24 hours. This is necessary because nitroglycerin, which is sometimes given during a stress test to relieve chest pain, should not be given to a person who has recently taken Viagra, since the combination can cause a serious drop in blood pressure.