wikiHow to Do a Stress Test

Three Methods:Preparing for a Stress TestHaving A Stress TestUnderstanding Alternative Stress Tests

A stress test is administered to patients by doctors in order to track how well your heart responds to physical stress. This test is used to diagnose coronary heart disease or to track its severity if you already have it. Medical professionals believe studying the heart is easier to do when it is working hard and beating fast. Most stress tests take place on a treadmill, but for people who cannot exercise, doctors can administer a pharmacological stress test. Do a stress test by wearing comfortable clothing, walking on the treadmill as instructed and talking to your doctor about the results.

Method 1
Preparing for a Stress Test

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    Talk to your doctor about the medications you are on, particularly the heart medications. You may need to stop taking certain prescriptions 2 or 3 days before the test.
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    Avoid eating and drinking 4 to 5 hours before your stress test. If you have anything in your stomach, the procedure can cause nausea. Most medical professionals do say you can drink water before a testing. Check to see what your healthcare professional recommends.
    • Talk to your doctor if you are diabetic and your blood sugar is in danger of reacting to a lack of food for an extended period of time. Diabetics who need insulin will receive special instructions prior to the test.
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    Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Anything that you would normally exercise in, such as shorts, sweats or yoga pants will work. Sneakers or athletic shoes are best for your feet if you have them.
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    Expect to spend at least an hour doing the test. Your doctor may want to discuss the results with you after administering the stress test.
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    Sign a consent form. Before you undergo a stress test, the procedure will be explained to you by a nurse or medical professional, and you will need to consent to the exam.

Method 2
Having A Stress Test

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    Get your blood pressure and heart rate recorded. A nurse will take your vital signs at rest, before you begin the test.
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    Let the doctor or nurse stick electrodes to your chest, shoulders and hips. Each of these electrodes will record the electrocardiogram reading for each portion of your heart.
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    Start at a slow speed. You will start walking on a treadmill that records your electrocardiogram, heart rate and blood pressure. Your warm up pace will be slow.
    • Remember to breathe. Taking deep, even breaths will keep the oxygen flowing to your heart and your brain properly.
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    Increase the intensity of your exercise. The treadmill will increase in slope or speed every 3 minutes, according to the protocol most doctors follow.
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    Continue to keep up with the pace of the treadmill until the doctor stops you. You may be stopped once a target heart rate is reached, or after enough data has been gathered about how your heart is performing.
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    Talk to your physician about the preliminary results. Your doctor should be able to detect specific heart diseases or discuss any concerns in your blood pressure or heart rate.
    • Ask about how the results may change your treatment if you are already diagnosed with coronary or heart problems.
    • Expect to get official results a few days after your stress test. Your doctor may schedule another appointment to see you, or will call you with more in depth results.

Method 3
Understanding Alternative Stress Tests

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    Take a drug such as Dobutamine for a pharmacological stress test if you are unable to exercise. The heart will respond to this drug the same way it would to exercise.
    • You will probably be asked to refrain from using caffeine or smoking before the test. Cessation of caffeine includes not eating chocolate, drinking caffeinated sodas or drinking decaffeinated drinks. Check with your health care professional concerning what medications that should be discontinued before the test.
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    Have a stress echocardiogram if your doctor thinks it will be more informative than a treadmill stress test. This stress test, also called an "echo," can reveal a lack of blood flow or pumping action from your heart that the treadmill stress test might not.
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    Undergo a nuclear stress test to understand which parts of your heart are functioning better than others.
    • Allow the doctor to inject a slight amount of radioactive substance to get a clear picture of your heart and determine where problems might rest.


  • Remember that while the stress test is a reliable way to measure your heart health, it is not 100 percent accurate all the time. There have been cases of false positives, meaning people without coronary problems are thought to have them based on the stress test. Other tests will need to be conducted by your doctor.


  • Notify the medical staff supervising your stress test immediately if you begin to feel chest pain, you cannot breathe or you experience any other distress during your procedure. Complications are rare, but there is always a risk.

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Categories: Health | Cardiovascular Health and Blood Pressure