Treadmill Stress Testing

A stress test is a general screening tool to test the effect of exercise on the heart and the body’s increased demand for oxygen. It can be performed to help determine causes of chest pain, the exercise capacity of the heart or appropriate exercise levels in those starting an exercise program. It can also identify rhythm disturbances during exercise.

During an exercise stress test, the patient engages in controlled exercise (such as walking on a treadmill or pedaling a stationary bicycle) and an electrocardiogram (EKG) is used to record the heart’s response to the increased workload. Blood pressure readings are also taken.  For patients who are unable to perform the physical exertion – due to illness or physical limitations – an intravenous medication such as dipyridamole or dobutamine may be used to produce a similar cardiovascular response as during exercise. This is referred to as a pharmacologic stress test.