A stress test involves exercising while your heart and blood pressure are monitored.
When you are ready you will be asked to exercise by walking on a treadmill or pedaling a bicycle. Most commonly a treadmill is used. Depending on the specific test that your doctor uses, every two to three minutes the speed or incline of the treadmill will gradually be increased. If you are out of shape or at high risk of coronary artery disease, these increases will be smaller and more gradual. You will not be asked to exercise more than you are able to.
Your doctor will closely watch your heart respond to the physical activity looking for any changes in your mental status, blood pressure, or in the pattern of your heartbeats. You should let your doctor know immediately if you have any chest pain or unusual shortness of breath while you are exercising. The exercise will be stopped if you are having these symptoms or if you are clearly showing signs of heart disease.
The exercise usually lasts a total of 8 to 12 minutes.