Stress Test


What Is a Stress Test?

A stress test is also known as a stress EKG test, myocardial perfusion stress test, exercise test or treadmill test. This diagnostic tool helps your doctor determine whether your heart is getting enough blood while you exercise.

A technician first monitors blood flow to your heart while you rest, then again as you exercise on a treadmill or stationary bike. If you cannot exercise, your doctor may give you medication that makes your heart beat fast and work hard, as if you were exercising. Your doctor will then compare the two test results.

What a Stress Test Diagnoses

  • Whether you are developing disorders such as an arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythm) or heart disease
  • How strenuously you can safely exercise during cardiac rehabilitation
  • Whether rib pain symptoms are heart related
  • Whether your treatment for heart disease has been effective

World-Class Care

Our Comprehensive Stress Testing

When you choose to undergo stress testing at an Aurora Health Care facility, you can expect:

  • Convenient appointments: We respect your time. Aurora staff members will try to schedule your stress test as quickly as possible.
  • Multiple locations: Because we have so many locations, we can usually schedule your stress test at an Aurora facility convenient for you.
  • Caring diagnostic professionals: Our experienced technicians and staff work closely with your doctor to complete your exercise test. They check your comfort level and explain testing procedures throughout the process. Your heart rate and blood pressure are monitored constantly for your safety.

What to Expect

What Happens During a Stress Test?

Allow about an hour for your stress test. During the procedure:

  1. A staff member will clean and prep your skin before placing electrode patches on your chest.
  2. Your technician will take a resting electrocardiogram (EKG) first. The doctor and staff will monitor your blood pressure, pulse and breathing.
  3. Next, you will walk on a treadmill, or take a medication that increases your heart rate if you are unable to exercise.
  4. The doctor will talk with you throughout the test to ask about any symptoms and be sure you are feeling OK.
  5. While you walk on the treadmill, we will again record your heart activity on an EKG.
  6. After the exercise (walk), you will have a short rest period.

Learn more about EKGs.

After Your Test

You are free to resume your regular schedule and eat, drink and take any necessary medications. Be sure to drink plenty of liquids.

A specialist – an electrophysiologist or cardiologist – will review your stress test results and share them with your doctor.

Your doctor will then discuss your stress test results with you. Depending on your results, your doctor will determine the best treatment options for you.

Preparing for Your Test

How to Get Ready for Your Stress Test

Your doctor will give you personalized instructions on preparing for your test. However, we typically will recommend the following:

General Instructions

Before the test, do not:

  • Eat for 4 hours before your test. Drinking fluids is OK, though.
  • Drink or eat anything containing caffeine, including chocolate, coffee, tea or soda, even if they are marked decaffeinated.
  • Use chew, smoke or use nicotine for at least 12 hours before your test. It may affect your test results.

Medical Concerns

  • Talk to your doctor if you take prescription medication. Some medicines affect the way your heart responds to exercise.
  • If you have diabetes and need to eat within 2 hours of your test, eat a very small amount.
  • For 24 hours before your test, avoid:
    • Excedrin, No-Doz, Anacin and other caffeine-containing pills, such as diet pills
    • Erectile dysfunction medications


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