Stress Test: Diagnostic tool used for evaluating heart function during stress

Goal of every stress test is to put your heart in state of increased activity and there are few types of this tests.

During some test, such as during nuclear stress test the doctors use small amount of radioactive substance and a special camera to detect decreased blood flow in certain areas of the heart.

On the other hand, there is also dobutamine or adenosine stress test, during which the doctor gives a patient, which is unable to exercise, a drug to determine how the heart works when exposed to stress.

While there are several types of this tests we are going to talk about the most used one, the treadmill stress test.

As the name suggest, it is preformed on a treadmill in order to evaluate the effectivness of your heart during increased level of activity. The level of activity includes steady, moderate to high paced walking.

It is used to:

  • Detect irregular heart rhythm-arrhythmia during increased level of activity
  • Evaluate blood flow to the heart during increased level of activity
  • Evaluate the effectivness of certain heart medications
  • Evaluate the state of coronary blood vessels and risk of coronary heart disease

    Talk with your doctor day before the test if you are taking any medications to determine which drugs you can and can`t take on the day of the test. Besides heart medications this applies for all kinds of medications, especially if you have diabetes.

    Don`t eat or drink anything couple of hours before the test. Don`t drink coffe or take any caffeine containing supplements or teas on the day of the test or at least 12 hours before the test. Caffeine is a stimulant and it can affect your test results.

    Also it would be good to wear sneakers and some loose, soft clothes suitable for the test.


    Before the test your doctor will probablly do ECG of your heart at resting state. Now, when it comes to the stress test, after you take your shirt off, the nurse will place small patches on to your chest.

    Then, she will connect the patches with electrodes that are attached to an electrocardiograph monitor which will monitor and record electrical activity of your heart during the stress test.

    You will start walking slowly on the treadmill while degree of difficulty gradually increases as the time goes. During the test, blood pressure, heart rate, your reactions and condition will be monitored by the doctors. If you fell any kind of pain, pressure, dizziness or any other unusual symptoms, tell it to the doctors.

    The test on a treadmill last from 5 to 12,15 minutes, depending on a patient plus the preparations and evaluation before the test.


    After the test, the doctor may leave you on a treadmill for a couple more minutes to cool down until your heart rate and blood pressure come back to normal.

    Then, patches and electrodes will be taken off and after you dress up, the doctor will tell you to wait in the waiting room until he examines the results of the test.

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