- A Visual Guide to Heart Disease
- Medical Illustrations of the Heart Image Collection
- Take the Heart Disease Quiz!
- Find a local Cardiologist in your town
- Exercise stress test introduction
- What is an exercise stress test?
- Why do I need an exercise stress test?
- What types of stress tests are there?
- How should I prepare for the exercise stress test?
- What if I have diabetes?
- What should I wear the day of the exercise stress test?
- What happens during the exercise stress test?
Quick GuideHeart Disease: Causes of a Heart Attack
What Types of Stress Tests Are There?
There are many different types of stress tests, including:
- Dobutamine or Adenosine Stress Test: This test is used in people who are unable to exercise. A drug is given to make the heart respond as if the person were exercising. This way the doctor can still determine how the heart responds to stress, but no exercise is required.
- Stress echocardiogram: An echocardiogram (often called "echo") is a graphic outline of the heart's movement. A stress echo can accurately visualize the motion of the heart's walls and pumping action when the heart is stressed; it may reveal a lack of blood flow that isn't always apparent on other heart tests.
- Nuclear stress test: This test helps to determine which parts of the heart are healthy and function normally and which are not. A very small and harmless amount of radioactive substance is injected into the patient. Then the doctor uses a special camera to identify the rays emitted from the substance within the body; this produces clear pictures of the heart tissue on a monitor. These pictures are done both at rest and after exercise. Using this technique, a less than normal amount of thallium will be seen in those areas of the heart that have a decreased blood supply.
Preparation for these types of stress tests will vary from preparation for the exercise stress test. Ask your doctor about any specific instructions.
How Should I Prepare for the Exercise Stress Test?
- Do not eat or drink anything except water for four hours before the test.
- Do not drink or eat foods containing caffeine for 12 hours before the test. Caffeine will interfere with the results of your test.
- Do not take the following heart medications on the day of your test unless your doctor tells you otherwise, or if the medication is needed to treat chest discomfort the day of the test: Isosorbide dinitrate (for example, Isordil, Dilatrate SR); Isosorbide mononitrate (for example, ISMO, Imdur, Monoket); Nitroglycerin (for example, Deponit, Nitrostat, Nitro-bid). Your doctor may also ask you to stop taking other heart medications on the day of your test. If you have any questions about your medications, ask your doctor. Do not discontinue any medication without first talking with your doctor.
- If you use an inhaler for your breathing, please bring it to the test.