Why Do I Need an Exercise Stress Test?

If your doctor, or one of our heart specialists at San Diego Cardiac Center, has ordered an exercise stress test, it is to determine if your heart is receiving the right amount of blood and oxygen. If you have been experiencing chest pains or are exhibiting certain symptoms that may indicate you have coronary artery disease, this test can reveal more about the condition of your heart. It can also reveal what level of physical exercise is safe for you.

Preparing for Your Exercise Stress Test

Before your test, we will need to review your health history and perform a physical exam. You should inform our heart specialist about any symptoms and if you have any physical issues that could make the exercise stress test more difficult for you. If you have diabetes, we need to know, as exercising affects your blood sugar levels, which may need to be monitored during your test. Arrive for your test in loose, comfortable clothing and shoes, preferably running shoes or sneakers. Three hours before your test, you must not eat, smoke, or consume any caffeine, and you may need to stop taking specific medications. We will work closely with your medical provider to ensure it is safe for you to stop taking any medication.

The test: What is an Exercise Stress Test Like to Experience?

Before you begin the test, you will have an EKG test to measure your heart rhythm when your body is at rest. You will be asked to breathe into a tube as a test of your lung strength. Once these preliminary steps are completed, your exercise stress test can begin.

You will first walk slowly on the treadmill. As the test moves into the next phase, both the speed and the tilt of the treadmill will be increased. If you feel any discomfort, speak up so we can stop the test.

How Long Does an Exercise Stress Test Take?

The test will take about one hour to complete, including prep. The actual testing requires only about 15 minutes. The test continues until you reach a specific heart rate, or if you develop uncomfortable symptoms, which could include:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Abnormal heartbeat
  • Fatigue
  • Signs that are revealed on the EKG

What Can an Exercise Stress Test Show About Heart Health?

An exercise stress test may have been ordered to identify the cause of certain symptoms. The test shows how your heart functions during periods of physical activity. As your heart is beating faster and more strongly, the test can reveal several problems related to blood flow within the heart structure. The test may be just one of several you undergo to diagnose a heart condition or disease and to identify the best treatment to bring about a better state of heart health. This test may also be ordered after being prescribed heart medication to determine if it is helping your condition or to guide future treatment plans.

Your Heart Health and San Diego Cardiac Center

At San Diego Cardiac Center, we have four decades in practice serving the San Diego area. We are equipped with the most advanced diagnostic systems and tools, offering both diagnosis and treatment for a wide array of heart conditions. We are continuously involved in clinical research and often offer newer, better treatments to our patients before any other clinic in the area. In fact, we are often responsible for bringing these new treatments to the hospitals where we practice. Our team of heart specialists employs the most advanced techniques and is dedicated to searching out newer, better methods for treating a range of heart conditions.

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