A stress test, or exercise test, measures the heart’s activity during physical activity.
What is a stress test?
A stress test measures how a patient’s heart performs during a period of supervised physical activity, such as walking on a treadmill. During exercise the heart rate increases and blood pressure rises. The stress test measures these, along with the patient’s breathing and the heart’s electrical activity (ECG), to reveal potential heart problems.
What does a stress test treat?
Cardiovascular (heart) disease is the number one killer of North Americans. In men, it outnumbers the next seven causes of death combined, and in women the next 16 causes.
People aged over 40 are at particular risk of sudden cardiac death caused by a heart attack (where a blood clot suddenly blocks your coronary artery). Heart attacks most often come without warning and without prior symptoms.
For people under 40, the leading cause of sudden death is Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), a congenital abnormal thickening of the heart’s muscle that can prove lethal. HCM is not easy to detect, and so is often missed in routine physical exams.
A stress monitor test is one non-invasive way to check whether you are at risk for the above and other heart disorders. Catching any risk early enables maximum planning and protection. Other reasons to undertake a stress test include having symptoms of heart disease or an irregular heart rhythm.
Stress test results
The results of a stress test can inform treatments, highlight problems, or help confirm diagnoses.
Preparing for a stress test
Patients may need to follow specific advice around what to eat and drink before the stress test. Patients should wear comfortable clothing and walking or running shoes.
What to expect with a stress test
A technician attaches the electrodes that monitor the heart to the chest with adhesive, before connecting them to the recording device/ The patient then walks on a treadmill under the supervision of a technician. The treadmill will start slowly and then the speed and grade will increase in stages. As exercise increases, the heart rate and blood pressure rises. This is a normal response and they will be monitored along with ECG.
Patients are encouraged to exercise for as long as possible to get the most beneft from the stress test. Patients are told to inform the technician if they experience chest pain, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, or other symptoms during the test so adjustments can be made.
After the exercise portion of the test, the patient sits down for a few minutes so blood pressure and ECG can be monitored during recovery. The stress test lasts from 30 to 45 minutes depending on exercise and recovery time. Patients should allow about one hour for the entire test.
The exercise portion of the test carries a risk factor equivalent to 1,500km of highway driving.
After a stress test
After the stress test, the patient receives a report with the test results within a couple of weeks.
Get a stress test with Centric Health
Many men and women from across Canada and all over the world choose Centric Health Surgical Centres for stress tests. Combined with our patient-centred philosophy, we aim to provide all our patients with a compassionate, caring, and rewarding experience.
Next steps: Book your stress test
If you are ready to discuss a stress test, contact us to learn more and request a consultation today. To discover your health options your patient care coordinator will discuss:
- Your medical history
- Potential risks and complications