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What is a cardiac stress test?

Cardiac stress tests or “treadmill tests” are used to help determine the cause of chest pain. These tests serve as a guide for further testing and treatment and may be performed in conjunction with echocardiograms and nuclear cardiac imaging if further evaluation is needed.

A cardiac stress test measures the heart's ability to respond to external stress, such as strenuous physical exercise. It records the heart's activity using electrodes while you exercise for about 15 minutes on a treadmill or stationary bike. The test also takes into account how your blood pressure and pulse change over the course of the activity. All of this helps determine if your heart still works well, even when it is working hard. A cardiac stress test is one common diagnostic test for atrial fibrillation.
Cardiac stress tests measure the health of your heart while it is working hard. In a stress test, you exercise to increase your heart's workload, which increases the blood flowing to your heart. If you are unable to exercise, medication is used to increase the blood flow to the heart. Depending on your condition and which type of stress test you have, your heart's response is measured in various ways, which may include electrocardiograms (EKGs or ECGs) and imaging tests. These tests help your doctor assess blood flow to different areas of the heart muscle.

Continue Learning about Heart and Circulatory System

Heart and Circulatory System

Heart and Circulatory System

Your circulatory system is made up of your heart and three main types of blood vessels -- arteries, veins and capillaries. Your heart is at the center of the system, acting as a pump to distribute nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood t...

hrough your body; it then takes away carbon dioxide and other waste your body doesn't need. Signs of poor circulation include cold hands and feet, numbness, dizziness, migraines, varicose veins and pain in your feet or legs. Untreated, poor circulation can lead to stroke, high blood pressure, kidney damage and other diseases. Learn more about your heart and circulatory system with expert advice from Sharecare.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.