Health Topics

The Entrance and Exit Stress Test for Cardiac Rehabilitation

The Entrance and Exit Stress Test for Cardiac Rehabilitation

What is an Exercise Stress Test?

An exercise stress test involves exercising on a treadmill or stationary bicycle while you are closely monitored. Exercise stress tests are used to:

  • Determine how well your heart and body tolerate activity
  • Evaluate the function of your cardiovascular system (heart and blood vessels)
  • Help determine the presence and severity of heart disease
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of your cardiac treatment plan

The results of your exercise stress test will help the cardiac rehabilitation team develop safe, effective, and personalized activity guidelines, and track your progress in the program.

What Should I Do the Day Before the Test?

Eat as you normally would on the day of your test, but DO NOT eat or drink anything except water for 4 hours before the test. Take all of your prescription medications at the usual time, unless told otherwise by your doctor. If you use an inhaler, bring it with you.

Guidelines for People With Diabetes

If you have diabetes and are taking medications to manage your blood sugar, eat your regular meals and take your diabetes medication as prescribed, as long as there are at least two hours between eating and the test time. If this is not possible, please contact the physician who is managing your diabetes for specific instructions.

Do not take your diabetes medication and skip a meal before the test. If you own a glucose monitor, bring it with you to check your blood sugar levels before and after your test. If you think your blood sugar is low, tell the lab personnel immediately.

Learn step-by-step what will happen during the test. Explore the guide listed below.

  1. First, a lab technician will place electrodes on your chest. The electrodes are attached to an electrocardiograph monitor (EKG) that charts your heart’s electrical activity during the test.
  2. Before you start exercising, the technician will perform a resting EKG, measure your resting heart rate and take your blood pressure.
  3. The lab personnel will ask you to start exercising and gradually increase your rate of exercise. You will be asked to exercise very hard until you are exhausted.
  4. At regular intervals, the lab personnel will ask how you are feeling. Please tell them if you feel chest, arm or jaw pain or discomfort; are short of breath; are dizzy or lightheaded; or if you have any other unusual symptoms.
  5. The lab personnel will watch for any changes on the EKG monitor that suggest the test should be stopped.
  6. After the test, you will walk slowly for a couple of minutes to cool down. After exercising, your heart rate, blood pressure and EKG will continue to be monitored until the levels are returning to normal.

How Will I Feel During the Test?

You will be encouraged to exercise until you are exhausted. It is normal for your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing and perspiration to increase. If you begin to notice chest discomfort, excessive shortness of breath, lightheadedness, irregular heart-beats or other symptoms of concern, tell the stress lab personnel immediately.