Exercise Stress Test
The Exercise Stress Test helps your doctor determine if you have heart disease. Your heart’s electrical activity and your blood pressure are measured while you exercise on a treadmill. To find out what happens during a stress test, watch our Knowledge Centre video What is an Excercise Stress Test?
HOW DO I PREPARE FOR MY EXAM?
TWO DAYS BEFORE THE EXAM
Certain heart or blood pressure medications may need to be stopped 48 hours prior to the study. If you haven’t already done so, please let us know if you are on any of the medications listed below prior to starting the study:
Acebutolol (Monitan, Rhotral, Sectral)
Metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL, Lopressor SR)
Diltiazam (Cardizem CD/SR)
Felodipine (Plendil, Renedil)
Verapamil (Isoptin Chronovera)
ONE DAY BEFORE THE EXAM
- Avoid all foods or beverages that contain caffeine (e.g., coffee, tea, chocolate, decaf coffee, decaf tea, pop) in the 24 hours before your test.
- Avoid medications that have caffeine (e.g., Tylenol #3, Anacin, Excedrin, No-Doz, Darvon, Caffregot, Fiorinal, etc.).
FOUR HOURS BEFORE THE EXAM
- Don’t eat or drink anything before your exam.
- You may take small sips of water with prescribed medications.
- Do NOT smoke.
- Wear comfortable clothing and appropriate shoes for the treadmill. Try to wear a short-sleeved shirt with buttons or a big T-shirt so we can easily place the electrodes on your chest. Change rooms are available.
- If you have asthma, be sure to bring your inhaler.
- SPECIAL NOTE: If you take medication to manage your blood sugar and can’t fast for four hours, please call your doctor for specific instructions. You may fast for two hours, eat a small meal and take your diabetes medication as prescribed prior to the two hours. Remember to bring your glucose monitor to the exam and if you think your blood sugar is low, let the technologist know right away.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING MY EXAM?
- A technologist will place electrodes (adhesive patches) on your chest. They will be attached to an electrocardiograph monitor (EKG) that charts your heart’s electrical activity during the test.
- A physician specialising in internal medicine will consult with you prior to the test. If you have any medical questions concerning your test, this is an ideal time to discuss them.
- Before you start the exercise portion of the study, the technologist will perform a resting EKG reading, measuring your resting heart rate and taking your blood pressure.
- As you start to walk, the treadmill will start out very slow, then speed and incline will gradually increase. The majority of the program is a walking pace. Some may end up jogging.
- The technologist will ask you how you are feeling throughout the test.
- Please tell your technologist if you feel short of breath, dizzy, lightheaded or experience chest, arm or jaw pain or discomfort, or if you have any other unusual symptoms.
- We will stop the test if you become too tired, experience chest pain or when the technologist has enough information.
- After the exercise portion is over, you will need to sit and relax. We will continue to monitor you as your heart rate and blood pressure return to normal. You are then free to leave.
WHEN WILL I GET MY RESULTS?
The physician will interpret the complete EKG analysis and we will do our best to forward the results as well as a consultation report to your doctor by the next business day.
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
This exam is covered under your Alberta Health Care Plan. It is not currently offered at our Saskatchewan clinic.