Exercise stress testing is used to evaluate how well your heart copes with the extra demands placed on it during exercise.
In comparison, a routine ECG is done when the heart is at rest.
A technician and nurse do the testing, and a doctor is also often present. It usually takes between 30 and 60 minutes.
You can eat and drink as normal before the test, but avoid a heavy meal beforehand, and wear loose clothing and comfortable walking shoes.
You will be asked to walk on a treadmill. The speed and gradient are increased every 2–3 minutes, depending on the reason for the test. You need to push yourself as hard as you can, to achieve a result that shows your true capabilities.
During the test your symptoms, blood pressure, heart rate, rhythm, ECG and exercise ability will be monitored. It you experience chest pain, undue breathlessness, fatigue or significant changes in blood pressure, heart rate or ECG, the test will be stopped.
This information was first published in You and Your Heart - an education booklet for patients, families and friends. © 2006 Northern Sydney Central Coast Area Health Service