A stress test, or treadmill test, is a form of cardiac diagnostic testing to measure how exercise affects your heart rate. Stress testing can help your doctor see how much exercise your heart can handle before having a heart problem or symptoms. A stress test is typically performed while you walk on a treadmill or pedal a stationary bike at increasing levels of difficulty.
At St. Joseph's Heart & Vascular Institute, our skilled cardiologists provide comprehensive care to evaluate, diagnose, and treat heart problems. If you or loved one has been recommended for a stress test in the Stockton region, Find a Doctor at Dignity Health.
Why a Stress Test is Performed
Your doctor may recommend a stress test to evaluate symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath. These are the primary symptoms of coronary artery disease (CAD), a condition in which plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries, causing them to narrow and limit the flow of blood to the heart.
Generally, our doctors use stress tests to evaluate, diagnose, and monitor these heart conditions:
- Pericarditis (inflammation around the heart)
- Heart valve disease
- Heart failure
- Heart birth defects
- Coronary artery disease
- Cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart muscle)
- Cardiac arrhythmias (abnormal or irregular heartbeats)
A stress test may be used to monitor your heart if you’ve recently had a procedure or surgery, such as heart bypass surgery, heart transplant, or angioplasty. Stress testing will help your doctor decide how much exercise is safe for you.
What to Expect from a Stress Test at Dignity Health
Your stress test will most likely be performed in one of our state-of-the-art hospitals or outpatient clinics. During the test, electrodes will be placed on your chest, arms, and legs. You will have a blood pressure cuff on your arm. While you exercise, your heart rate and blood pressure will be monitored. If you have chest pain, trouble breathing, or other symptoms, you can stop the test. The exercise part of the test will last about 15 minutes. Your provider will watch you closely and respond to any problems.
What Your Stress Test Results Mean
Once your stress test is complete, a cardiologist will review the results and share them with you.
Common test results may mean:
- If there is normal blood flow and heart function during rest and exercise, you may not need any further testing or treatment.
- If there normal blood flow and heart function while resting, but not during exercise, it could be a sign of CAD or another heart condition.
- If blood flow is low during rest and exercise, it could be a sign of CAD or damage from a heart attack.
Depending on the results of your stress test, your cardiologist may recommend further testing to get a better picture of your heart and determine future treatments.
The experts at St. Joseph's Heart & Vascular Institute offer stress testing throughout the Stockton region.