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Pharmacologic Stress Testing


Pharmacologic stress testing uses medicine to make the heart work just as it does when you exercise. The medicine makes your heart beat faster and increases blood flow through your heart.


Before your test:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • Vital signs: Caregivers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rate.

During your test:

  • Electrodes (sticky patches) are placed on your chest. The electrodes are attached to wires that send the electrical activity of your heart to the electrocardiogram (ECG) monitor. Caregivers will look at the activity of your heart at rest, and decide what type of medicine will be used for your test.
  • An IV line is placed into a vein in your arm. Medicine that works on the blood vessels or muscles of your heart is given slowly and constantly. Your heart's activity and your blood pressure are checked during and after the medicine is given. Your heart rate and rhythm are also checked regularly. More tracings are recorded after all of the medicine has been given. You may also need to do mild exercise on a treadmill for 1 minute while tracings are recorded. The electrodes may need to stay in place for a time to monitor your heart's activity after the test.


A pharmacologic stress test may cause you to feel dizzy, lightheaded, and weak. You may have throbbing or extra heartbeats, chest pain, or a heart attack.


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 caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

Learn more about Pharmacologic Stress Testing (Inpatient Care)

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Further information

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