Stress Testing

Why Stress Testing is Performed

Exercise stress testing is a non-invasive procedure used to assess how well your heart functions during physical activity. It helps doctors evaluate your heart’s response to stress and identify any potential issues with blood flow to the heart muscle.

During an exercise stress test, you will be asked to walk on a treadmill while your heart rate, blood pressure, and electrocardiogram (ECG) are monitored. This allows the Cardiologist to observe how your heart responds to increased physical exertion.

Stress testing can be performed using echocardiography, where ultrasound images of the heart are taken before and after exercise to assess heart function. Alternatively, dobutamine, a medication, can be used to simulate the effects of exercise on the heart if physical activity is not possible.

The outcomes of a stress test can provide valuable information about your heart health. A normal stress test result indicates that your heart is functioning well during exercise. Abnormal results may suggest underlying heart conditions such as coronary artery disease or arrhythmias, which may require further evaluation and treatment.

Fast for 2 hours prior to the procedure. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes suitable for exercise. Take your regular medications unless instructed by your doctor, rate-slowing medicines such as beta-blockers may need to be withheld. You will need to change into a gown for the procedure as the chest area needs to be accessible for ECG recording and echocardiography.

An exercise stress test typically lasts between 30 to 60 minutes, including preparation and recovery time. The actual exercise portion usually lasts around 10 to 15 minutes, during which you will gradually increase your activity level as instructed by the healthcare team.

The Cardiologist will analyse your results and forward a full report to your managing doctor. Usually, you will discuss the results with your specialist in a follow-up appointment and, depending on the outcome, plan your ongoing treatment.

If exercise stress testing is not feasible or if more detailed imaging is required, your doctor may refer you for other tests such as CT angiography, nuclear medicine stress testing, or an invasive angiogram. These tests provide additional information about heart function and blood flow.