Cardiac Stress Test Overview

Stress tests, also called exercise cardiac stress tests, are used to assess the possibility of coronary heart disease. If the results of this procedure suggest the presence of coronary artery disease, a subsequent referral for cardiac catheterization is likely.

Several types of stress tests may be used. In some cases, a patient simply walks on a treadmill while connected to an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG). In other cases, a drug is infused into the bloodstream to increase the heart rate or to affect the flow of blood within the heart and an echocardiogram is used to obtain images of the heart.

Nuclear stress test involves injecting a radioactive substance into a vein and using a special camera to obtain images of the heart during rest and immediately following exercise on a treadmill.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 24 Nov 2004

Last Modified: 18 Sep 2015