A stress test is done to gather information about how the heart works during physical activity. Since exercise requires the heart to work hard and pump blood, the stress test can reveal otherwise unnoticeable problems with the heart or be used as a guide to further treatment if there has already been a diagnosis.
When a patient comes in for a stress test they will be hooked up to special equipment used to monitor the heart, and asked to walk on a treadmill. As the test progresses, the speed and incline of the treadmill may increase, during which time breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure are all monitored. The test continues until the patients hear rate reaches a certain target or feels unable to continue. The patient is encouraged to stop the test at any time if they become too tired or uncomfortable.
After a stress test, results will be sent to the patient’s cardiologist. The doctor will then discuss the results with the patient, and use them to create or modify a treatment plan.