Heart and Vascular

Center for Cardiovascular Excellence

24/7 Cardiac Care


Exercise Stress Test

An exercise stress test helps your doctor see how your heart works during exercise. This test is also called an exercise tolerance test, an exercise electrocardiogram or a treadmill test.

During the test, you will be connected to an electrocardiogram and a blood pressure cuff while you exercise. A healthy person's electrocardiogram has a certain pattern. If the pattern of yours is different, doctors can tell if there is a problem with your heart.

Your blood pressure, pulse and heart's electrical activity are recorded before you begin exercising. During the test, you will be asked to walk on a treadmill or to ride a recumbant bike. Every couple of minutes, your doctor or the technician will increase the speed and slope of the treadmill (or the resistance on the bike). Your doctor or a technician will look for changes in the electrocardiogram patterns and blood pressure levels. These indicate whether your heart is getting enough oxygen.

Be sure to tell your doctor and the technician how you are feeling during the test. It is important to report any symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, difficulty breathing, chest pain, jaw or back discomfort, lightheadedness or dizziness, or physical inability to continue the test. At the end of the test, you may be asked to lie down or sit quietly.

Drug Inducted Stress Test

This test is for patients who are not able to walk on a treadmill. Like a treadmill test, it evaluates your heart's response to stress, but in this case, medication rather than physical exercise stresses the heart.

Nuclear Stress Test

In addition to measuring your heart's electrical activity during stress, a nuclear study provides pictures of your heart. This nuclear study has two parts: a scan of your heart at rest and a scan of your heart under stress. This information will help us determine if any of the coronary arteries are blocked.

To take the scan, we will give you a small amount of weak radioactive isotope through an IV. On a scan, it will show which areas of your heart muscle are receiving blood.

Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG)

The EKG records the heart's electrical activity and shows abnormal heart rhythms. It can even show a heart attack in progress.

Tilt Table Test

If you have sudden or frequent fainting spells (syncope), your doctor may order a Tilt-Table Test. During this test, we will monitor your heart rate and blood pressure as you lie flat on a table. Then we will tilt the table upward, so that you are almost in a standing position. The changes in your heart rate and blood pressure as you change position can show whether it is a heart rhythm problem that is causing you to faint.