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Heart Stress Test

Stress TestDefinition:

A stress test is used to evaluate heart function. It requires that you either exercise on a treadmill or receive a medication while your heart rate, respirations, blood pressure and electrocardiogram (ECG) are monitored. A stress test is particularly useful for evaluating possible coronary artery disease, detecting inadequate supply of oxygen-rich blood to the tissues of the heart muscle (ischemia), and determining safe levels of exercise in people with existing heart disease.

What to Expect: A nurse from Cardiopulmonary will contact you the day before your exam and give you instructions for your testing. You will check in through the North Admission Entrance.

Types of Stress Tests:

  • Regular Treadmill – You will walk on a treadmill while staff monitor your condition closely.
  • Stress Echocardiography – This is done either by you walking on the treadmill or by giving you a medication through an IV to increase your heart rate. In addition to this, ultrasound pictures (echocardiogram) are taken of your heart at different stages during the test. (Could you put a link here to Echocardiogram).
  • Radionuclide Myocardial Perfusion Imaging (MPI) Stress Tests: The Radionuclide used is not a dye or contrast material and will not cause symptoms or side effects. The MPI stress test consist of 2 parts:
  1. Rest: Radionuclide is injected through your intravenous (IV) line. You will wait 30 to 60 minutes until pictures are taken of your heart. You will lie on a bed with your arms positioned over your head for 10 minutes while pictures are obtained.
  2. Stress: Radionuclide is again injected through your IV at the peak of exercise. If you walk on the Treadmill you will go for your stress pictures immediately following exercise. If you are receiving a Pharmacologic (medication) stress test, you will wait 45 minutes until pictures are taken.
    • Radionuclide Treadmill - You will walk on the treadmill. Your nurse will discuss the specifics about this test with you.
    • Lexiscan – You will be given a medication instead of walking on a treadmill. Your nurse will discuss the specifics about this test with you.
    • Dobutamine - You will be given a medication instead of walking on a treadmill. Your nurse will discuss the specifics about this test with you.


  • Do not eat after midnight (unless otherwise instructed by the Cardiopulmonary RN).
  • Scheduled medications may be taken with 4 – 6 ounces of water, juice or Gatorade. Certain medications (beta blockers) that slow your heart rate may need to be held before testing. If you are diabetic, your insulin doses may also need to be altered. Please consult your physician or nurse.
  • NO CAFFEINE PRODUCTS (coffee, tea, pop, chocolate or Excedrin) 12-24 HOURS BEFORE YOUR TEST.
  • Refrain from smoking for 12-24 hours before your test.
  • Wear comfortable clothing. If you are walking on the treadmill, wear a short sleeve shirt and appropriate shoes.
  • Bring a complete list of your medications along with any allergies you have to medications or latex products.

Depending on the type of stress test that is ordered, you may be at the hospital anywhere from 2-4 hours.

Every effort will be made by our staff to contact you prior to test day for explanation of the test and to obtain medical history. If we are unable to contact you and you have question, please call us at 402-461-5124 to speak to a Cardiac Diagnostics RN. Our hours are 6:30am – 5:00pm Monday through Friday.

Post Test:

  • Discharge instructions will be reviewed.
  • Follow up appointments will be made if indicated.
  • You can return to your normal diet and activity.
  • Most people feel fine to drive themselves home.
  • A Cardiologist or Radiologist will interpret the images and your ordering physician’s office will contact you with results.

Thank you for choosing Mary Lanning Healthcare for your medical needs.

We appreciate your loyalty and confidence in our services. If you have any questions, please contact your physician or a Cardiac Diagnostic RN at 402-461-5124.