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Heart Disease and Stress Tests

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What Happens During the Exercise Stress Test? continued...

Before you start exercising, the technician will perform an ECG to measure your heart rate at rest and will take your blood pressure.

You will begin to exercise by walking on a treadmill or pedaling a stationary bicycle. The rate of exercise or degree of difficulty will gradually increase. You will be asked to exercise until you feel exhausted.

At regular intervals, the lab personnel will ask how you are feeling. Please tell them if you feel chest, arm, or jaw pain or discomfort, short of breath, dizzy, lightheaded, or any other unusual symptoms. It is normal for your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, and perspiration to increase during the test. The lab personnel will watch for any symptoms or changes on the ECG monitor that suggest the test should be stopped.

After the test you will walk or pedal slowly for a couple of minutes to cool down. Your heart rate, blood pressure and ECG will continue to be monitored until the levels begin returning to normal.

Although the appointment lasts about 60 minutes, the actual exercise time is usually between seven and 12 minutes. If a nuclear stress test is done, the test could last to up to 4 hours to allow adequate time for the radioactive substance to flow through the body.

Ask your doctor if you have any questions about the exercise stress test.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Suzanne R. Steinbaum, MD on September 28, 2014
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