Harvard Heart Letter

The exercise stress test: What to expect

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During a standard exercise test, you walk on a treadmill at progressively faster speeds while health care providers monitor your heart's electrical activity, your heart rate, and your blood pressure.

Often used to reveal hidden heart problems, this test can also tell you what kind and level of exercise is right for you.

One of the most common tests in cardiology, the exercise stress test has been used for decades. It's also known as a treadmill test—or, more accurately, an exercise ECG stress test. That's because it relies on findings from an electrocardiogram (ECG), which records the heart's electrical activity.

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