Exercise stress test


An exercise stress test shows how well your heart works when you’re exercising. During physical activity your heart pumps faster and harder, this test picks up changes to blood flow and rhythm during exercise.


Why am I having an exercise stress test?

An exercise stress test is performed either to diagnosis heart disease or to monitor how well your heart is responding to treatment. Monitoring your hearts electrical activity during exercise conditions can help to diagnose coronary artery disease or some heart rhythm disorders (arrhythmias).

What happens during an exercise stress test?

This test takes place in a testing room with a cardiac technician and specially trained nurse supervising. A doctor (usually a specialist general practitioner) will either be supervising the test or be immediately available if problems occur.

The cardiac technician will ask you to take off your top so that they can attach ECG stickers to your chest to monitor the electrical activity of your heart. A gown will be provided if required.

A blood pressure cuff will be placed on your arm.

Before you start exercising the cardiac technician will record your blood pressure, heart rate and ECG at rest.

You will then be asked to walk on the treadmill. Every 3 minutes the team will increase the intensity of the exercise until your heart is working at the desired rate (called the target heart rate).

This is a safe test monitored by a specially trained medical professional. Please let them know if you experience chest pain. They may also stop the test early if:

  • Your blood pressure becomes a concern.
  • Significant ECG changes occur.
  • You become too tired or develop another symptom that prevents you exercising

After you have completed your exercise stress test you will be given some time to cool down and recover before leaving the centre.

How long does this test take?

An exercise Stress Test takes about 20-30 minutes.

How to prepare for an exercise stress test?

When your test appointment is confirmed you will be told if you are required to withhold any of your regular medication on the day of the test.

Please avoid a heavy meal, caffeine, alcohol and smoking for two hours prior to this appointment.

What to wear?

You will be required to walk for a short period of time on a treadmill, please wear comfortable walking shoes. The cardiac technician will need access to your chest, so it is best to dress in a two-piece outfit.

What to bring?

Please ensure you bring a copy of your referral with you.

My results?

If your exercise stress test is performed before a consultation with one of our cardiologists any abnormal results will form part of the discussion. Otherwise one of our cardiologists will prepare a full report and send the results to your referring doctor.