Skip to Content

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.


The week before your test:

  • Arrange a ride home. Ask a family member or friend to drive you home after your surgery or procedure. Do not drive yourself home.
  • Ask your caregiver if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.
  • Tell your caregiver if you are taking blood pressure medicines or blood vessel medicines. He may ask you to stop taking these at least 48 hours before your test.
  • Tell your caregiver if you are or think that you might be pregnant.
  • You may need to have some other tests done before the stress test. Ask your caregiver for more information about these and other tests that you may need. Write down the date, time, and location of each test.
  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your procedure.
  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.

The day of your test:

  • Ask caregivers about directions for eating and drinking.
  • Ask your caregiver before taking any medicine on the day of your procedure. These medicines include insulin, diabetic pills, high blood pressure pills, or heart pills. Bring a list of all the medicines you take, or your pill bottles, with you to the hospital.
  • Do not wear tight-fitting clothes on the day of your test. You may be asked to wear walking shoes or sneakers so that you are comfortable during the test.


What will happen:

  • Electrodes (sticky patches) will be put on your chest. Hair may need to be removed to help the electrodes stick to your skin. The electrodes will be 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.
  • Medicine will be given slowly and constantly through an IV line placed in your arm. The activity of your heart will be watched during and after the medicine is given. Your blood pressure, and heart rate and rhythm will also be checked regularly. ECG tracings of your heart will be recorded after all of the medicine has been given. You may also need to do mild exercise on the treadmill for 1 minute while tracings are recorded.

After your test:

If you need to wait for test results, bring a friend or family member to wait with you. They can help support you during and after the test.


  • You have a fever.
  • You have questions or concerns about your test or medicines.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • You have nausea.
  • You have chest pain or discomfort that spreads to your arms, jaw, or back.
  • You are sweating more than usual or have sudden trouble breathing.


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.

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

Further information

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

Learn more about Pharmacologic Stress Testing (Precare)

Micromedex® Care Notes