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Exercise Tolerance Test (ETT) or Stress Test

An Exercise Tolerance Test or Stress Test records the heart's electrical activity (rate and rhythm) during exercise. It is useful chiefly in the diagnosis of coronary artery disease. By placing the stress of exercise on the heart, the test can bring out abnormalities caused by partial blockages in the coronary arteries – abnormalities that are often completely unapparent at rest.

Following are some frequently asked questions about the test and how to prepare for it. Click on the question for the answer, which will appear below the questions.

What will happen during the test?

During the test, the cardiologist and a technician are present. Electrodes will be placed on the chest the same as for an electrocardiogram (ECG). Your blood pressure, heart rate, and ECG will be recorded at rest, usually while you are lying on your back and again when standing.

You will then be asked to perform a "graded" exercise test on a motor-driven treadmill. The exercise-protocol that you will follow will be determined by the cardiologist supervising your test, but will begin at a relatively easy level and become progressively more difficult with each subsequent stage.

Your blood pressure, heart rate, and ECG will be recorded at frequent intervals during exercise and after exercise. The physicians or technologist may stop the test at any time for medical reasons. You may ask to stop the test at any time because of significant fatigue or discomfort. However, we encourage you to exercise as long as possible so that we may assess your heart under maximum stress.

What is the preparation for the test?

Wear loose, comfortable clothing and comfortable walking shoes. There is a changing room available.

Since your blood pressure will be checked periodically during the test, wear a short-sleeved shirt or blouse.

Do not wear boots, jumpsuits, overalls, or a dress.

Please do not eat or drink anything with caffeine in it for eight hours before your stress test. Items with caffeine include: colas, coffee, tea, chocolate, and certain cold remedies.

Do not eat anything 4 hours prior to the stress test.

Please do not smoke or exercise 8 hours before testing.

You should continue to take all medications, unless your cardiologist instructs you to do otherwise.

What should I bring with me to the stress test?

Inhalers, if you use them.

List of medications and dosages.

Insurance card.

Referral for the stress test if required by your insurance company.

Where will the test be performed?

The test will be performed at:

Legacy Heart Center
6601 Preston Road
Plano, Texas 75024
469-800-6300
Link to map

Once your appointment has been scheduled it is very important that you keep that appointment. If you are unable to keep the appointment, you must give the office at least 24 hours notice that you will not be there. Please contact us at the phone number above. Our busy schedule requires tight scheduling restrictions, and it would be appreciated if you would notify our office if you will be late for your appointment. We would appreciate your complete cooperation.

What are the benefits of the test?

Your physician will obtain valuable information about the condition of your cardiovascular system from the exercise tolerance test. The test is one of several diagnostic tools that are available to help determine the presence of absence of heart disease. The stress EKG also helps your physician determine your level of cardiovascular conditioning and assess the safety of an exercise program for you.

Who will give me the test results?

After a review of the test, your medical history, other imaging modalities and previous tests by a Legacy Heart Center cardiologist, a report will be sent to the ordering physician. The ordering physician will then review the results and discuss them with you.