EXERCISE STRESS TEST
What is an EXERCISE STRESS TEST?
An exercise stress test will help your doctor determine whether your heart receives enough oxygen and proper blood flow during exertion.
Graded exercise can reveal changes on ECG or with your BP that may otherwise not be detected in a resting state.
Why do I need to have an EXERCISE STRESS TEST?
Your doctor may request this test if you have been experiencing chest pain or other symptoms of coronary heart disease or heart rhythm problems (e.g. chest heaviness/tightness, shortness of breath, sweating and dizziness).
Your doctor may want to assess the progress of a particular treatment (e.g. after coronary stent).
Your doctor may want to evaluate your fitness and your capacity to undertake physical or occupation related activity (heavy vehicle, pilot etc). This test will assess your heart’s response to exercise.
An exercise test is performed on a treadmill. Electrocardiographic (ECG) and blood pressure readings are taken throughout the test. The workload (speed and incline of the treadmill) is gradually increased every three minutes. The test is stopped when you are too tired to continue or when your target heart rate is reached or when the doctor detects changes of concern with you or your ECG.
Is there any preparation required for this test?
Wear comfortable clothing and walking shoes.
You should tell your doctor about any conditions or symptoms that may make exercising difficult for you e.g. arthritis.
Can I eat or drink before my test?
There is no need to fast before the test, however, you should refrain from having a heavy meal prior to exercise.
Do I take my medications on the day of the test?
Please check with your doctor and only stop taking medications if your doctor tells you to do so.
You may be asked to stop taking beta-blockers on the day of your test (if so, bring them along to be taken after the test).
Examples of beta-blockers:
- Atenolol (Tenormin, Noten)
- Metoprolol (Betaloc, Minax, Lopressor, Metohexal)
- Sotalol (Sotacor, Sotahexal)
- Propranolol (Inderal)
- Bisoprolol (Bicor)
- Carvedilol (Dilatrend)
- Nebivolol (Nebilet)
Where do I go to have the test?
Peninsula Heart Centre offers stress testing at two hospital-based locations:
- Frankston Suite 11, Peninsula Private Hospital, 525 McClelland Drive
- Mornington Suite 7, Beleura Private Hospital, 925 Nepean Highway
What do I need to bring?
Please bring your Medicare Card and personal information for our medical records (Pension/HCC/health insurance/DVA/emergency contact details) and the Referral Letter from your doctor (if not already sent).
What do I wear?
Wear loose clothing and comfortable walking shoes.
How much will it cost?
Exercise stress tests at the Peninsula Heart Centre are bulk billed.
What happens during the test?
ECG leads will be attached to monitor your heart rate and rhythm throughout the procedure. A blood pressure cuff placed on your arm will record your blood pressure at 3-minute intervals.
The treadmill will start slowly (2.7 km/hr) at an incline of 10 degrees. Every 3 minutes, the treadmill will get faster and the incline will increase.
Once you have achieved more than 85% of your target heart rate on ECG (as determined by your age) or when you are too tired to continue or when the doctor detects any changes of concern, the treadmill will be stopped. Your heart rate and blood pressure will continue to be monitored during your recovery. Any symptoms will be evaluated in conjunction with your ECG recording.
The test may be stopped prematurely if you develop any symptoms of chest pain, arrhythmia, breathlessness, or fatigue, or any ECG or blood pressure abnormalities.
It is important to tell your doctor if you are feeling unwell in any way or if you want to stop.
How long does the test take?
Allow up to one hour for the appointment. You will be exercising on the treadmill for 5-10 minutes.
What are the risks?
Exercise stress testing is generally considered safe however it does carry a small risk of:
- Severe drop in blood pressure (hypotension)
- Chest pain
- Irregular heartbeat
- Heart attack (1-2:10,000)
- Intracerebral bleed
Every effort is made to minimise these risks. At Peninsula Heart Centre, exercise stress testing is performed by specialist doctors with qualified cardiac nurses or technicians. The test is only performed in a hospital setting that has access to emergency cardiac services should any complications arise.
When will my results be available?
Your test results will be discussed with you on the day and a copy will be sent to your referring doctor at the completion of the test. A copy will be placed in your medical history.
You will need to organise an appointment with your doctor, who will have a discussion with you about your results. The cardiologist will discuss any new or urgent result with you on the day.
Follow-up appointments with our own cardiologists will be made, if necessary.