31 East Darrah Lane
Lawrence Township, NJ 08648

Exercise Stress Test

The exercise stress test, also known as just stress test, is used to show the performance of the heart during physical activity or stress. Due to the fact that exercising makes your heart pump harder and faster, an exercise stress test aims at revealing problems with the blood flow within your heart.

Usually, a stress test involves walking on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike while monitoring your heart rhythm, blood pressure, and breathing. In other cases, you may receive a drug that mimics the effects of exercise.

How do I Prepare for the Test?

Prior to the day of the test, you will be given instructions on how to prepare for the exercise stress test. It’s advisable not to ingest caffeine on the day of the test, as well as to stop eating, drinking or smoking for a period of time before the test begins. Please take into account that, in case you use an inhaler for asthma or other breathing problems, it’s of high importance that you bring it to the test. Additionally, making sure your doctor and the health care team member monitoring your stress test know that you use an inhaler is necessary. Finally, remember to wear or bring comfortable clothes and walking shoes.

What Exercise Stress Tests are Used for

Exercise stress tests are used to diagnose possible:
  • Coronary artery disease: the coronary arteries are major blood vessels that supply the heart with blood, oxygen and nutrients. When these arteries become damaged or diseased, usually due to a buildup of cholesterol or other substances, coronary artery disease develops.
  • Arrhythmia (heart rhythm problems): when the electrical impulses that coordinate your heart rhythm don’t function properly, they cause your heart to beat either too fast, too slow or irregularly, producing arrhythmia.
  • Guide treatment of heart disorder: exercise stress tests can help guide the best treatment for a cardiac disease, or establish the treatment plan for you by confirming how much exercise your heart can handle.

Additionally, an exercise stress test can also help determine the timing of cardiac surgery, like a valve replacement. Moreover, when talking about people with heart failure, stress test results may help the doctor determine whether they need a heart transplant or other advanced therapies.

What to Expect During a Stress Test

When the exercise stress test begins, the technician at Sleep and Wellness Medical Associates will place electrodes (sticky patches) on your chest and lower abdomen. Please bear in mind that there are some areas that may need to be shaved so that the electrodes can stick properly. These electrodes will have wires connected to an electrocardiogram machine, which records the electrical signals that trigger your heartbeats. At the same time, a cuff on your arm will be checking your blood pressure during the test.

To begin, you’ll start exercising on a treadmill, slowly in the beginning, yet, as the test progresses, the exercise gets more difficult. There is a railing on the treadmill which can be used for balance. You continue exercising until your heart rate has reached a set target, although the test can also be interrupted by symptoms that don’t allow you to continue. These signs and symptoms may include:

  • Feeling dizzy.
  • Feeling exhausted
  • Severe shortness of breath.
  • Moderate to severe chest pain.
  • Abnormal heart rhythm.
  • Abnormally high or low blood pressure.

Please inform the technician immediately if you experience any of these symptoms, as the test will be then terminated and you will be evaluated by the physician.