Cardiac Stress Test

A cardiac stress test is a recording of the heart's activity during exercise. The heart is monitored using electrodes to record its electrical activity. Heart activity is also measured by looking at changes in blood pressure and pulse during the test.

  • Call Your Doctor

    Call your doctor if any of the following occurs:

    • Chest pain
    • Lightheadedness
    • Feeling extremely tired or having trouble breathing

    If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

  • Definition

    A cardiac stress test is a recording of the heart's activity during exercise. The heart is monitored using electrodes to record its electrical activity. Heart activity is also measured by looking at changes in blood pressure and pulse during the test.

  • What to Expect

  • Reasons for Test

    During physical activity, your body needs higher levels of oxygen. It gets oxygen from the blood. During exercise, the heart has to work harder to get blood to your organs. A cardiac stress test is used to see if your heart works well, even when it is working hard. The test is most often done to:

    • Evaluate whether complaints of chest pain are related to your heart
    • Determine if arteries to your heart have blockages or narrowing
    • Identify an irregular heart rhythm, or see if you pass out during or after exercise
    • Monitor your heart's response to treatment or procedures
    • Determine a safe level of activity before the start of an exercise plan

    • Plan rehabilitation after a
      heart attack
    EKGs Revealing Cardiac Muscle Damage
    Nucleus factsheet image
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • Possible Complications

    Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:

    • Developing chest pain
    • Developing an irregular heart rhythm
    • Having a heart attack, but this is extremely rare

    Technicians will be alert for any signs of heart or lung problems. Immediate action will be taken if complications happen. A doctor, most often a cardiologist, will be available during the stress test as well.