Cardiac Exercise Stress Test (CEST)

A stress test measures the heart’s performance while it works hard.

When the heart pumps fast, it needs more blood: a stress test helps doctors determine whether the heart is getting enough blood when it’s under stress.

Your doctor may order an exercise stress test to predict your risk of dangerous heart conditions, check how well your heart works after surgery, help figure out why you have chest pains, trouble breathing or other symptoms, to see if you can safely exercise after a heart attack or to determine a safe level of exercise.

To get your heart beating quickly, an exercise stress test is performed on a treadmill or a bike. First the patient is hooked up to the monitoring devices and their blood pressure is taken while they’re at rest. Then they begin to exercise—the intensity is increased causing the heart to beat faster. Throughout the procedure, heart rate, breathing, ECG and how tired the patient feels are monitored. The entire test takes about fifteen minutes. When the test is done, the patient can sit or lie down to allow blood pressure and heart rate to return to normal.

Healthy people are at very little risk while taking a stress test, but when the heart pumps quickly symptoms such as abnormal heartbeat, trouble breathing or dizziness can occur. The stress test can be stopped at any time, and a doctor and nurse remain at your side throughout.

To prepare for your exercise stress test, please do not smoke or ingest caffeine four hours prior to the test. Please do not drink alcohol or use recreational drugs for twenty-four hours prior to the test. You may have a light breakfast or lunch prior to the test. Please wear loose comfortable clothing and running shoes, but do not wear any powder or lotion on your chest area, though you may wear deodorant. Do not exercise the day of the test.

If you are unwell the day of your test, please speak to the clinic nurse. If you cannot keep your appointment, please contact the our office at least twenty-four hours prior to your test.

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