Exercise Stress Testing
At UW Health Heart and Vascular Care, "exercise stress tests" are available to you if your doctor suspects that you might have coronary artery disease or lung disease, or wants to rule out the possibility of heart problems.
The exercise stress test is a test of your cardiovascular and pulmonary systems. Patients are connected to an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) and exercised on a treadmill, stationary cycle or arm ergometer. The workload is progressively increased until you reach your "peak" level. Your exercise capacity and the responses of your ECG and blood pressure tell us whether there may be problems with your heart or lungs.
What Will Happen?
Following a brief examination by a physician, you will have patches placed on your chest for the ECG monitoring. You will then walk on a treadmill or ride a stationary cycle or arm ergometer while the exercise physiologists monitor your ECG, blood pressures and oxygen saturation if needed.
Every effort will be made to make you comfortable during the exercise test. You will be asked about how the exercise is feeling to you and whether you are having any adverse symptoms.
The intensity of the exercise will increase every 2-3 minutes until you reach your maximum level or until the physician stops the test. (The actual exercise time is usually around 6-12 minutes, depending on your health and fitness level.)
The clinic physician will analyze the results of the test and explain the results to you. A detailed report of the stress test will be sent to your primary physician.
Who Should Get This Test?
This test is best for patients with symptoms suggestive of heart problems, including:
- Chest pain or pressure
- Shortness of breath
- Persons with multiple risk factors for coronary artery disease
This test may be needed for persons requiring clearance to return to work or who want to participate in exercise programs, and also before some surgeries and medical procedures.
Do I Need a Referral?
A physician's referral is required before we can schedule the test appointment. Contact your health insurance provider for questions about whether this procedure is a covered benefit under your health plan.
This test is performed in the Research Park Clinic. Please arrive at the clinic on time and check in with the receptionist when you arrive. The exercise test and consultation with the doctor will take approximately two hours. Also:
- Do not eat for at least one hour prior to the appointment
- Do not smoke or ingest caffeine after midnight the day before the test
- Wear or bring comfortable clothing (sneakers or walking shoes are needed)
- If you have diabetes, please call the clinic for additional pre-visit instructions
- Continue taking medications as usual unless otherwise directed by your physician