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Exercise Stress Test

Also known as: Exercise stress test or cardiac stress test.

Duration:  About 15 minutes

The exercise stress test is a diagnostic test that checks the heart’s blood flow under “stress”/physical activity. While either walking on a treadmill or riding a stationary bicycle, the coronary arteries (the blood supply of the heart) are checked for any stenosis (narrowing) or blockages.


Preparing for the test:

Download Pre Test Instructions

How it is performed:

  • The electrodes will be connected by lead wires to an EKG monitor and the electric activity of the heart is recorded as “waves.”
  • An inflatable cuff is then placed around your arm to monitor your blood pressure and heart rate.
  • You will be asked to either start walking slowly on a treadmill or ride a stationary bicycle.
  • The treadmill/bike gets faster and steeper every few minutes until the target heart rate is reached or until you experience any symptoms like chest pain, dizziness, etc.
  • In some situations, this test is combined with an echocardiogram or a nuclear cardiac stress test.

After the test:

  • After the test is completed, you may be asked to stand still and then lie down for some time to check your heart’s recovery.
  • Your cardiologist will discuss the results and the next steps of action.
  • You can continue your daily activities.
  • Ask your cardiologist if you have any questions or concerns.

Fletcher GF, et al. Exercise standards for testing and training. Circulation. 2013;128:873.
Bourque JM, Beller GA. Value of Exercise ECG for Risk Stratification in Suspected or Known CAD in the Era of Advanced Imaging Technologies. JACC Cardiovasc Imaging. 2015;8(11):1309-1321. doi:10.1016/j.jcmg.2015.09.006
Kharabsheh SM, Al-Sugair A, Al-Buraiki J, Al-Farhan J. Overview of exercise stress testing. Ann Saudi Med. 2006;26(1):1-6. doi:10.5144/0256-4947.2006.1
Vaidya GN. Application of exercise ECG stress test in the current high cost modern-era healthcare system. Indian Heart J. 2017;69(4):551-555. doi:10.1016/j.ihj.2017.06.004
Sharma K, Kohli P, Gulati M. An update on exercise stress testing. Curr Probl Cardiol. 2012 May;37(5):177-202. doi: 10.1016/j.cpcardiol.2011.11.004. PMID: 22469057.