A cardiac stress test is sometimes called a treadmill exercise stress test or treadmill stress test. It is performed to determine the effects of exercise on the heart. The test allows doctors to detect abnormal heart rhythms and diagnose the absence or presence of coronary artery disease.

How the test is performed. You will be asked to remove your clothing from the waist up and put on a gown.  A registered cardiac technologist will place electrodes on different areas of your chest; these will be attached to a monitor and a blood pressure cuff on one of your arms. The technologist will take a baseline electrocardiogram (ECG) and measure your heart rate and blood pressure, then you will start to walk on the treadmill. The treadmill will increase in speed and incline every three minutes. The technologist will monitor the electrical activity of your heart to see how well it responds to exercise (stress) at different levels.

How to prepare for the test. Prepare a list of your medications to bring to the appointment; please speak to your doctor ahead of time about discontinuing any of your medications prior to the stress test. On the day of your appointment, bring or wear comfortable walking or running shoes. Please stop all food and caffeine two to three hours before the test.

How the test will feel: The test is painless. You may experience fatigue, sweating, and/or shortness of breath. The appointment is 45 minutes long; however, the actually physical exercising is usually 6 to 14 minutes of walking/running (depending on various factors such as your age, physical fitness, etc.).