Desert Cardiology of Tucson

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Cardiac Tests and Procedures
Exercise Stress Test

An exercise stress test provides information on your heart's response to stress. The test usually involves walking on a treadmill or pedaling a stationary bike at increasing levels of difficulty while the electrocardiogram, heart rate and blood pressure are monitored.

The test is used to:

  • Determine if there is adequate blood flow to your heart during increasing levels of activity
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of your cardiac treatment plan
  • Determine the likelihood of coronary artery disease and the need for future testing

Preparing for the test:

  • Do not eat or drink anything except water for four hours before the test.
  • Ask your doctor about current medications you may be taking on the day of the test. If you use an inhaler for breathing, bring it to the test. If you are diabetic, ask your physician how to adjust your medications the day of your test.
  • Wear comfortable clothes and soft-soled shoes suitable for walking. Women should wear a bra.
  • Do not bring valuables.

What to expect during the test:

Electrodes will be attached to your chest and connected to an electrocardiograph (ECG) monitor that charts your heart's electrical activity.

Your blood pressure and ECG recording will be taken before, during and after exercise. You will begin to exercise by walking on a treadmill or pedaling a stationary cycle. The degree of difficulty will gradually increase, and you will be asked to exercise very hard until you are exhausted.

At regular intervals, lab personnel will ask how you are feeling. Be sure to notify your caregivers of any chest, arm or jaw pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, dizziness, lightheadedness or any other unusual symptoms. It is normal for your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate and perspiration to increase during the test. The lab personnel will watch for any symptoms or changes on the ECG monitor that suggest the test should be stopped.

After the test, you will walk or pedal slowly for a couple of minutes to cool down. Your heart rate, blood pressure and ECG will continue to be monitored until the levels are returning to normal.

Although your appointment lasts about 60 minutes, actual exercise time is usually between 7 and 12 minutes. Your physician will receive the full report of your test, and results will be shared with you.

  Desert Cardiology of Tucson
6080 N. La Cholla Blvd, Suite 200
Tucson, AZ 85741
(520) 797-8550
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