Exercise Stress Test
What is an Exercise Stress Test?
An Exercise Stress Test is a walking treadmill test performed to help in the diagnosis of significant coronary artery disease, and may also assist in the investigation of abnormal heart rhythms.
About Exercise Stress Testing
An Exercise Stress test is a diagnostic tool used to aid in the diagnosis of certain cardiac conditions. Your doctor will order one of these tests if there is some possibility that you may have narrowed coronary arteries which may cause chest pain or breathlessness or if you have suffered symptoms of dizziness, blackout or palpitations. By performing a Stress Test, the heart is put under an increased workload in the presence of a Cardiologist with dedicated monitoring equipment to try and reproduce symptoms in a controlled environment and/or to document cardiac abnormalities to direct your doctor/Cardiologist to the best possible treatment for your diagnosed condition.
How do I prepare?
You will be required to wear comfortable walking shoes and fast for 2 hours prior to the test. Take your medicine as usual unless you are told otherwise by your doctor. A gown will be available but it may be advisable to wear shorts or a skirt to walk in. You may have a shower following the test if you wish.
What should I expect?
A Technician will prepare the patient by attaching electrodes directly to the chest and a blood pressure cuff to one arm. After some baseline recordings and measurements the Cardiologist will then supervise the test.
Note: If the resting ECG is significantly abnormal then the stress test may be abandoned, the Cardiologist will discuss with your referring doctor an alternative stress imaging test.
The exercise stress test is performed using a standardised protocol depending on the patient's abilities. The test will start with an easy walk and then progress every 1-3 minutes with an increase in speed and gradient depending upon your level of fitness. Throughout the test the electrocardiogram (ECG) and blood pressure are continually monitored. The stress test continues until the patient can no longer continue due to fatigue, or symptoms (chest pain, shortness of breath, or lightheartedness), or until changes in the ECG or blood pressure indicates a cardiac problem. After the test, the patient remains monitored until any symptoms resolve, and the ECG and blood pressure return to a normal resting state.
A report will be generated by the Cardiologist and the Technician, which will then be sent electronically to your referring Doctor.
If your referring Doctor has requested a consultation post testing, you will be seen immediately after by the Cardiologist to discuss your results and any treatment that may be required and a letter documenting this consultation will be sent electronically to your referring Doctor.
Risks to me
Both Stress Echocardiograms and Stress Tests are low-risk procedures. They are both non-invasive tests.
The most common occur only occur in 3:1,000 people and include:
Chest pain which can be treated by stopping the test and administering medication.
Development of fluid in the lungs which will result in the cessation of the test and administration of medication.
An abnormal heart beat or “arrhythmia” which may be treated by stopping the test and may also be treated with or without medication.
There is a risk of heart attack in 1:2,500 people and a risk of death in 1:10,000 people.
Please advise our staff prior to the test if you have a history of previous/recent heart attack, aortic dissection, recent fluid or clots in the lungs, severe heart valve disease, heart arrhythmias, palpitations, or recent increase in chest pain.
You will also be asked to provide a list of your medications so that these can be noted prior to the test.