Exercise Stress Test

The exercise stress test, also known as the treadmill test or exercise tolerance test, indicates whether your heart gets enough blood flow and oxygen when it's working its hardest, such as during exercise. Often, stress tests are given to people with chest pain or other symptoms who appear to have coronary artery disease, based on a medical exam and electrocardogram (EKG).

Stress tests are among the best tools for diagnosing heart disease, and some research suggests that they may also be useful in estimating disease risk in people who don't have symptoms but have risk factors such as high cholesterol. If you are over age 40 and are at risk for coronary artery disease because you smoke or have high blood pressure or other risk factors, ask your doctor if you should have this test.

Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing and athletic shoes. Let the doctor performing the test know if you think that you won't be able to walk on a treadmill or use a bicycle for any health reason, such as arthritis. Also let the doctor know if you have diabetes; since exercise can lower blood sugar. It's also important to tell the doctor or other health professional in the testing room if you've had any chest pain or pressure on the day of the test. Try to avoid eating a large meal right before the test.

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