Cardiac Stress Test

Also known as: treadmill test, exercise test.

What is a cardiac stress test?

A cardiac stress test is a test that doctors use to determine how well your heart & body respond to stress, while working them hard through exercise. CardioPulmonary stress test also includes doing pulmonary function test, to test your lungs.

The Heart Institute at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital uses the cardiac stress test to evaluate and monitor problems related to the heart, lungs and circulation.

What happens during the test?

The test takes place on a treadmill or a cycle ergometer (stationary cycle). Before it begins, equipment will be hooked to your body to monitor the heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen level. On a treadmill, you will start out walking at an incline, and then periodically the treadmill will speed up and become steeper. On a cycle ergometer, the resistance offered by the pedals progressively increases.

The Heart Institute provides a variety of diagnostic testing in our stress lab, including:
  • Treadmill stress tests
  • Cardiopulmonary exercise tests
  • Myocardial perfusion stress tests

Myocardial perfusion imaging is designed to:

  • Evaluate the presence and extent of suspected or known coronary artery disease.
  • Determine the extent of injury to the heart following a heart attack, or myocardial infarction.
  • Evaluate the results of coronary artery surgical intervention or other revascularization procedures designed to restore blood supply to the heart.
  • Evaluate heart-wall movement and overall heart function with a technique called cardiac gating.

Is any special preparation needed?

You should avoid eating a heavy meal prior to the stress test. You should come dressed in comfortable clothing that you would exercise in, as well as comfortable athletic shoes.

What are the risk factors?

The risks are extremely small, but would include falling from the exercise equipment, fainting or having a cardiac arrhythmia. Medical professionals monitor patients closely during the test to prevent and treat any problems.

Reviewed by: Danyal M Khan, MD

This page was last updated on: March 11, 2021 01:52 PM

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