Cardiac Stress Testing

A stress test gauges a patient’s cardiovascular health by recording heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen intake and other factors while the patient experiences increasing heart stimulation, either through strenuous exercise in a controlled environment or through intravenous drug stimulation. The patient’s resting coronary circulation is recorded and then compared to their circulation recorded during the stimulation period.

If your stress test involves physical activity, you will be asked to walk/jog on a treadmill while the treadmills slope steepness and speed are progressively increased. If your stress test involves intravenous drug stimulation, depending on other medications you are currently taking, you will be given one of the following pharmaceuticals: Dobutamine, Adenosine or Dipyridamole. Please be sure your doctor has a list of your current medications to ensure a reaction will not occur.

Preparations for a Cardiac Stress Test

For several hours leading up to the stress test, we ask that patients not eat, drink or smoke. Please also refrain from drinking caffeine or alcohol at your last meal before your test. If you are doing an exercise stress test, please wear appropriate athletic clothes and shoes to the office. If you do not have athletic clothes, we suggest wearing a comfortable, loose-fitting T-shirt and shorts or pants. We also advise that you do a few stretches to prevent cramps while on the treadmill. If you are doing a pharmacological stress test, please bring your current cardiac medications and/or inhalers with you. We will review these medications to determine which drug you will be administered for the test.

Side Effects from a Cardiac Stress Test

After completing an exercise stress test, some patients experience side effects, including:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue

Side effects from a pharmacological stress test may include:

  • Mild hypertension caused by the Adenosine or Dipyridamole


If there is any irregular blood flow in the heart during the stimulation period, this could indicate that the patient has ischemic heart disease, coronary artery stenosis, angina pectoris or is at high risk for a heart attack.