It's not a written test, so you don't have to study, but here are some things you should know. This test is designed to: help your Doctor determine if your chest pain is coming from your heart not getting enough blood supply, to evaluate your exercise capacity, to test the effectiveness of your medical therapy, to see if you may have any exercise induced cardiac electrical problems or to follow up on previous stent, angioplasty or bypass procedures prior to cardiac rehabilitation.

First of all, wear something that you can exercise comfortably in. This may mean shorts, T-shirt, loose fitting pants and most importantly, jogging or tennis shoes. Ladies should wear a comfortable brassiere. If your test is scheduled in the morning, don't eat breakfast (diabetics may need to decrease their morning diabetes medication). If scheduled in the afternoon, eat a light breadfast and skip lunch. 

You will exercise on a treadmill using a protocol to slowly and steadily put more stress on your heart. You should expect to get hot, sweaty and fatigued by the end. It is very important to get your heart rate up to a certain level which is determined by your age, otherwise the test may be inconclusive. FOR THIS REASON, IF YOU ARE TAKING ANY OF THE MEDICATIONS LISTED BELOW, PLEASE DO NOT TAKE THEM THE NIGHT BEFORE, OR THE MORNING OF YOUR STRESS TEST. 

IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT THAT YOU DO NOT JUMP OFF THE TREADMILL UNTIL INSTRUCTED TO DO SO BY THE DOCTOR! Failure to follow these instructions could lead to serious injury!


(Again, do not eat within 6 hours before testing). 

In this type of stress test you will NOT have to exercise on a treadmill. This may because of anticipated inability to walk fast enough and long enough on a conventional treadmill, or it may because of medication interference or a pacemaker rhythm. One of two agents are generally used. The first is Adenosine. This is a naturally occurring substance in your body, but it is given at higher dosage, over a short period of time, generally 4 to 6 minutes. It has a very short lasting effect and will be completely out of your system within 30 seconds of stopping the test. It may make you feel short of breath, flushed or hot, may give you a headache and people often have a mild form of chest discomfort, even if there is no blockage in the coronary arteries. If you have problems during this test, there is an antidote to reverse it very quickly. This antidote is very similar to caffeine, so it is very important that you have NO CAFFEINE PRODUCTS within 24 hours of an Adenosine stress test. A nuclear tracer is injected half way through the stress test to detect the area of your heart not getting enough blood flow. Let the doctor know if you are pregnant, or think you might be. The nuclear tracer will be out of your body in 24 hours, so avoid close contact with children or pregnant women for 24 hours following your test. 

Dobutamine is an agent that will make your heart pound harder and faster, without exercising. You will likely feel palpitations and it may give you chest discomfort and a headache. Like Adenosine, it is a short acting agent, and will be out of your system in a few minutes. Also like Adenosine, there is an antidote if you should have problems tolerating the infusion. The antidote is a drug called a Beta Blocker, that's why the list of medications at the bottom should be avoided for this test as well.

  • Pindolol or Visken
  • Timolol or Blocadren
  • Propranolol or Inderal
  • Carteolol or Cartrol
  • Pendutolol or Levatol
  • Betaxolol or Kerlone
  • Cardvedilol or Coreg


  • Digoxin
  • Digitalis or Lanoxin
  • Sotalol or Betapace
  • Atenolol or Tenormin
  • Metoprolol or Lopressor/Toprol
  • Nadolol or Corgard

So, you're scheduled for a stress test, huh?

List of Medication to NOT take

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