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Cardiac Stress Test

Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 6, 2024.

What do I need to know about a cardiac stress test?

A cardiac stress test shows how healthy your heart is and how well your heart works during stress. Your heart may be placed under stress with medicine or exercise. This test may also be called an exercise stress test or a cardiac exercise test. Plan for up to 90 minutes for prep time and the test.

How do I prepare for a cardiac stress test?

What will happen during a cardiac stress test?

A healthcare provider will place electrodes (sticky patches) on your chest. Hair may be shaved to help them stick. Wires connect the electrodes to a computer. The computer records your heart's electrical activity. You may have a blood pressure cuff on your arm to monitor your blood pressure. Providers may also measure your blood oxygen level. You may be asked to breathe into a tube during the test. This will show how well you are able to breathe during exercise. If you are going to get medicine during the test, a provider will insert an IV. A provider will monitor your heart rate, heart rhythm, and blood pressure during the test.

What should I expect after a cardiac stress test?

You will sit or lie down. Your breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate will be monitored for several minutes. Your IV will be removed if you had one. You can return to your usual activities after the test, or as directed.

What are the risks of a cardiac stress test?

You may have low blood pressure during or right after the test. This can cause you to feel dizzy or faint. You may have an abnormal heart rhythm. These risks usually go away after the test is complete. A heart attack is possible but rare.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.