picture of exercise treadmill stress test

Exercise Treadmill Stress Test

A stress test, sometimes called a treadmill test or exercise test, helps a doctor find out how well your heart handles work. As your body works harder during the test, it requires more oxygen, so the heart must pump more blood. The test can show if the blood supply is reduced in the arteries that supply the heart. It also helps doctors know the kind and level of exercise appropriate for a patient.

A person taking the test is hooked up to equipment to monitor the heart and begins by walking slowly in place on a treadmill. The treadmill gets progressively faster and steeper every 3 minutes for the purpose of increasing the patient’s heart rate to certain taget, defined by age and gender. The patient’s heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), and how tired they feel are monitored during the test.

A physician may recommend an exercise stress test to:

  • Diagnose coronary artery disease
  • Diagnose a possible heart-related cause of symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath or lightheadedness
  • Determine a safe level of exercise
  • Check the effectiveness of procedures done to improve coronary artery circulation in patients with coronary artery disease
  • Predict risk of dangerous heart-related conditions such as a heart attack.

Patients should wear comfortable, loose clothing and tennis shoes for the test.