Exercise Stress Test
Doylestown Hospital
595 West State Street, Doylestown, PA 18901 (215) 345-2200
V.I.A. Health System
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Exercise Stress Test


What is an Exercise Stress Test?

An Exercise Stress Test is a test that allows the physician to evaluate how well your heart functions when it has to work harder.  You will walk on a treadmill while your ECG and blood pressure are monitored and recorded.  This test may help to detect problems that are not found while you are at rest.  This test may also be called a "Treadmill Test" or an "Exercise ECG Test".

What does the ECG show?

The ECG shows the electrical activity in your heart.  During exercise, the physician or his/her designee will carefully watch the ECG for any evidence of heart problems such as:  a heart rate that is too fast or too slow, irregular heart beats (arrhythmia) or changes in the shape of the ECG complex.  These changes may mean areas of your heart are not getting enough blood flow during exercise due to narrowed or diseased arteries in your heart. 

How is it done?

A technician will prepare your chest with an abrasive lotion and then place sticky patches on your chest.  These patches will be attached to the wires of the ECG machine. 

Before exercising, an electro-cardiogram will be done with you lying down and standing up.  You will be instructed on how to step onto the treadmill and how to hold onto the rails to maintain your balance while you are on the treadmill.

A blood pressure cuff will be placed on your arm and a blood pressure will be taken before you start and about every 3 minutes until you have completed the test.  A Cardiologist, an Exercise Physiologist, a Physician Assistant or a Nurse Practitioner, along with an ECG Technician will be with you throughout the test.  You will begin by walking slowly on the treadmill.  The speed and incline of the treadmill may increase every 3 minutes.  You will be asked to report any discomfort such as chest pain, chest pressure or shortness of breath.

How long will I have to walk on the treadmill?

The average walking time is 6 to 9 minutes.  The test may be stopped if you develop abnormal ECG changes, if you are too tired to continue, if you develop significant symptoms or if you have reached your peak heart rate.  At the end of the test, the treadmill will gradually slow down and you will be assisted to a chair or bed.  Your ECG and blood pressure will continue to be monitored for an additional 3 minutes or until you are symptom free and your ECG is normal. 

The technician will remove the sticky patches and the blood pressure cuff at the completion of the test.

How do I prepare?

  1. Bring all of your signed doctor's orders and referrals with you.
  2. Bring a list of your medications with you.
  3. Do not eat or drink anything for 2 hours prior to the test.
    *Especially no CAFFEINE or ALCOHOL and no SMOKING the day of the test.
  4. Wear comfortable, loose fitting clothing and flat walking shoes.

Should I take my medicine on the day of the test?

CONSULT THE PHYSICIAN who ordered the test about your medications.  Get specific instructions about Beta Blockers from your physician.

How long does it take?

Allow 45 minutes for this test.

How will I get the results?

Contact the physician who ordered the test to obtain the results.

Please note:  If the results of your test need to be sent to an ordering physician that does not practice at Doylestown Hospital, you will need to provide the physician's full name, address and if possible FAX number.  You may provide this information on the day of your visitor or call 215-345-2231 Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM.

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