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Stress Test

What is a Stress Test?

A stress test, sometimes called a treadmill test or exercise test, determines how well the heart handles work. As the body works harder during the test, it requires more oxygen, so the heart must pump more blood. The test can show if the blood supply is reduced in the arteries that supply the heart. It also helps determine the appropriate type and level of exercise appropriate for the patient.

Cardiac Stress Tests Offered

St. James Hospital performs the following types of Cardiac Stress tests:

  • Exercise Stress Echo Test
  • Dobutamine Stress Echo Test
  • Non-Imaging Stress Test

A physician may recommend an exercise stress test to:

  • Diagnose coronary artery disease
  • Diagnose a possible heart-related cause of symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath or lightheadedness
  • Determine a safe level of exercise
  • Check the effectiveness of procedures done to improve coronary artery circulation in patients with coronary artery disease
  • Predict risk of dangerous heart-related conditions such as a heart attack

What To Expect

During this test the patient is hooked up to equipment that monitors the heart and measures the blood pressure, and an IV may be inserted in the arm.

  • Test begins by walking slowly in place on a treadmill. Then the speed is increased and the treadmill is tilted to produce the effect of going up a small hill.
  • The test can be stopped at any time, if needed.
  • After the test, the heart and blood pressure is checked while seated or lying down.
  • If a person is unable to tolerate walking on a treadmill, then a pharmacological (drug- assisted) stress test can be performed.

Throughout the test, the patient’s heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), and general well being are closely monitored. Medical professionals are present during the test to assist if and when needed. Healthy people who take the test are at very little risk. The risk is comparable to a fast walk or jog up a big hill. Depending on the results of the exercise stress test, the physician may recommend more tests such as a nuclear stress test or cardiac catheterization.