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Cardiac stress test

Exercise electrocardiogram (ECG)

A stress test or exercise tolerance test gives information about how your heart functions under the strain of exercise

About

This routine test helps to diagnose coronary artery disease and cardiac arrhythmia, as well as investigate other heart-related symptoms including chest pain and dizziness. The test involves walking on a treadmill at a controlled speed and incline while monitoring your heart rate and blood pressure.

Need to know

  • What happens icon plus

    Your resting heart rate and blood pressure will be measured before you start exercising. Special sensors will be attached to your chest using small sticky pads. These sensors are connected to an electrocardiogram (ECG) recording machine to track the electrical signals that make your heart beat. Your blood pressure will also be monitored throughout. You'll start the test by walking slowly on the treadmill. The pace and incline will gradually be increased until you reach a target heart rate (or need to stop due to fatigue or other symptoms). The test generally lasts around 30 minutes, with about 10 to 15 minutes on the treadmill.
  • How to prepare icon plus

    Your consultant or physiologist will explain the test to you and answer any questions you may have. They'll let you know if there is anything specific you need to do to prepare. This may include avoiding caffeine and certain medications before your test. You'll need to wear comfortable clothes and shoes appropriate for exercise. If you can't exercise, we may be able to use a short-acting intravenous drug, which increases your heart rate simulating exercise. Your consultant will let you know if this is the right option for you and explain what to expect and how to prepare.
  • Afterwards icon plus

    The test itself should be painless, but you may feel a little tired afterwards. Results are normally available within 48 hours. Your consultant will discuss these and any next steps with you, including further tests or procedures if needed.

Our facilities

From complex surgery to straightforward procedures, we provide exceptional care across our network of hospitals, outpatient centres and specialist clinics. 

Request an appointment

We're happy to help you make an appointment with one of our experienced consultants.

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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