Stress Test

A stress test can be used to determine your risk of heart disease. The test is performed by a doctor or technician trained in performing it. The doctors will figure out how much your heart can handle before an abnormal rhythm develops or your blood flow to your heart muscle decreases.

What is a Stress Test?

The goal of a stress test is to see if your heart receives enough oxygen and blood flow during times when it is most demanding, like while walking or exercising.

Usually, people who suffer from chest pains or other symptoms of coronary artery disease (also known as coronary heart disease) are advised to undergo this test.

Stress tests involve walking on a treadmill, gradually raising your heart rate. Electrocardiography (ECG) monitors heart rhythms. 

If stress tests were 100% accurate, everyone would conduct them regularly. Stress testing isn't accurate in diagnosing all cases of CAD, and it can point to CAD in individuals who don't have it. Many doctors say, " It can raise or lower the probability that there is coronary artery disease, but can't confirm it or diagnose it."

What is the Process of a Stress Test?

Stress tests begin by making your heart beat faster and harder. Many people walk on a treadmill or ride a stationary bicycle as part of their exercise routine. This is why the test is sometimes called an exercise stress test.

A healthcare provider measures your response to the increased workload by:

  • A blood pressure reading.
  • Heart rate.
  • Measurement of oxygen levels.
  • Heart activity.
  • Your heart's work rate compared to others your age and gender.

When a Stress Test is Performed, What do the Results Show?

A stress test that indicates an abnormal result indicates an increased risk of CAD in men who suffer from chest pain when they are active or have unexplained shortness of breath. The situation is more concerning for men with risk factors like age, obesity, or high cholesterol. 

If you have symptoms, but the test results look normal, you are less likely to develop CAD. The risk of significant coronary artery disease is lower for that person. However, the doctor may still recommend more tests.

A stress test detects severely narrowed arteries (70% or more). It is this that causes symptoms. Most heart attacks are caused by ruptured and formed clots caused by tiny blockages.

What Types of People Should Have Cardiac Stress Tests?

The following symptoms of heart disease may indicate that this test is right for you:

  • Angina - Angina causes chest pain due to poor blood flow.
  • Arrhythmia - In arrhythmia, the heartbeat is rapid or irregular.
  • Breathing difficulties (dyspnea).
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded.

People with a diagnosis of heart disease may also benefit from stress tests:

  • A heart disease history or a personal history of the disease may increase the risk of complications.
  • Healthcare providers must assess your risk of complications if you require non-cardiac surgery.

Stress tests may also be performed on people without known heart disease or symptoms in order to determine if they are at risk for heart attacks and heart disease, especially if they have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or a family history of premature heart disease.

Types Of Stress Tests:

A number of methods exist for assessing heart function during activity. Your heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen level, and electrical activity will be measured during a cardiac stress test. 

Here are some common stress test: 

1. Exercise Stress Test

Exercise stress tests are also known as treadmill tests. Electrocardiogram (EKG) machines monitor your heart while you walk on a treadmill.

2. Nuclear Stress Test

Nuclear stress tests are also called thallium stress tests. The procedure is similar to exercising stress tests, but you will receive dye through an intravenous line (IV). Through this method, a special camera can take images of your heart.

3. Stress Echocardiogram

Similarly to an exercise stress test, a transducer will be held against your chest by your healthcare provider. The sound waves produced by this wand-like device make moving pictures of the heart.

Who Shouldn't Undergo an Exercise Stress Test?

Not everyone should undergo a cardiac stress test. If you have any of the following, you may not need to take the test:

  • Having been diagnosed with coronary artery disease, undergoing treatment, and not having new symptoms for years.
  • Heart disease or heart symptoms have never been reported.
  • People who are physically active eat a healthy diet and don't smoke.

Stress tests are also not recommended for people with heart conditions that make them unsafe (contraindications). 

The following are among them:

  • Severe aortic stenosis
  • Ongoing chest pain.

What Should I do Before and After the Stress Test?

Monitoring some things before and after taking a stress test is important.

1. Before Stress Test

The doctor should be informed if you have chest pains or other complications during the test. The EKG machine will be hooked up to you before you begin exercising.

Before exercising, you will undergo a heart rate and breathing check with your doctor or nurse. A doctor may also test your lung strength by having you breathe into a tube.

2. After a Stress Test

After the test, water will be given to you, and you will be asked to rest. The nurse may continue monitoring your blood pressure if it rises during the test. 

A coronary artery disease test may reveal irregular heartbeats or other symptoms that indicate the disease.


Conducting a cardiac stress test to diagnose a heart condition is valuable. Despite some limitations, it may provide insights that allow early diagnosis and treatment of atherosclerosis and CAD. 

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