Exercise Stress Test

What is an Exercise Stress Test (EST)?

The exercise stress test measures the function of the heart, lungs and blood vessels. It is done to help diagnose blocked arteries in the heart (coronary artery disease), assess abnormal heartbeats or to check the function of pacemakers.

Before the test starts, a resting electrocardiogram (ECG) is taken. This is a paper recording of your heartbeat. Next, your heart is exercised or ‘stressed’. If you can walk easily, you can walk on the treadmill. The speed and slope of the treadmill will increase every three minutes. This makes your heart do more work. The test will be stopped if you have severe chest pain, become very tired, very short of breath (puffed) or if the Cardiologist is concerned about your heart rhythm. Your pulse, blood pressure and electrocardiogram are monitored during and after the test. If the doctor stops the test he will explain why he has done so.

You are usually only walking or jogging on the treadmill for 7-12 minutes; depending on how long it take to reach the targets as designated in the test.

If you feel unwell you should tell staff at once.

You should allow 30 minutes for this test to be undertaken.

Before your procedure:

  • Eat a light snack and only drink water 2-3 hours before.
  • Do not do any strenuous exercise on the day of the procedure.
  • Take your usual medication, unless your doctor or hospital has advised otherwise and bring a list of your medications to the hospital.
  • Read and follow any other instructions or information given to you by your doctor/hospital.
  • Wear shorts, pants or a skirt suitable for exercising in.
  • Wear comfortable non-slip shoes suitable for walking.
During your procedure:

The Cardiac Scientist or Technician will discuss the consent for the test with you prior to commencing the Exercise stress test. They will place ECG dots on your chest and take a resting ECG as a baseline.

Dr Small will be present during the actual exercise ‘treadmill’ part of the test. Your blood pressure will be taken at the beginning and then every 3 minutes. The Treadmill will increase in inclination and speed every 3 minutes. All staff will be watching your ECG trace carefully whilst checking in with you during the test.

After your procedure:

Usually after the procedure you will see Dr Small for a consult to discuss the outcome of the Exercise Stress Test. A formal report will also be sent to your referring doctor and/or GP.