What is the test?
The exercise stress test, also known as the treadmill test or exercise tolerance test, indicates whether your heart gets enough blood flow and oxygen when it's working its hardest, such as during exercise. Often, stress tests are given to people with chest pain or other symptoms who appear to have coronary artery disease, based on a medical exam and electrocardiogram (EKG). In addition, these tests are sometimes used for other purposes, from assessing the effectiveness of heart disease treatment to gauging the safety of a proposed exercise program.
Your heart health can be examined during and after exercise either by using an EKG or an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart). When this test uses an echocardiogram it is called an "exercise echo."
Stress tests are among the best tools for diagnosing heart disease, and some research suggests that they may also be useful in estimating disease risk in people who don't have symptoms but have risk factors such as high cholesterol. If you are over age 40 and are at risk for coronary artery disease because you smoke or have high blood pressure or other risk factors, ask your doctor if you should have this test.
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