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A stress test involves cardiac evaluation while walking on a treadmill to determine how well your heart responds to increased blood and oxygen flow during exercise. This test provides valuable information on your functional capacity and the heart’s electrical response (via EKG) to exercise, in order to check for signs of coronary artery disease.

It can also evaluate a person's prognosis after a heart attack, verify the effectiveness of medical and surgical therapies, and help determine an appropriate exercise program for people with known heart disease.

Stress tests are performed by our team of trained cardiology specialists at our office in Woodbridge, VA.

Why it's done

This test may be ordered if you are experiencing symptoms of chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations, or dizziness. 

A stress test may also be indicated if you:

  1. Have pre-existing medical conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, family history of heart disease, that increase risk for heart disease

  2. Require clearance for non-cardiac surgery to assess your risk for perioperative complications

  3. Need medical advice if it is safe to start exercising

  4. Assess response to medical treatment

What you can expect

An exercise stress test involves walking on a treadmill while connected to an EKG heart monitor. Your heart rate and rhythm are monitored by a trained specialist, who will tailor the speed and elevation of the treadmill to your abilities and level of fitness. You can expect to exercise for about 10-15 minutes during the test. 

If you are unable to exercise, a different type of stress test, called a nuclear stress test, may be ordered for you, during which a medication can be used to dilate the arteries of the heart simulating exercise to assess for signs of coronary artery disease.

How you prepare

  1. Tests are performed Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 30-minute test duration.

  2. Visit our office at Woodbridge, 15 minutes before your appointment

  3. You may be advised to hold certain medications 24 hours prior to this test. Check with our front desk staff for a complete list of medications that should be held.

  4. You do not need to be fasting for this test.

  5. No alcohol or nicotine consumption after midnight prior to your test.

  6. Wear two-piece clothing and sneakers/walking shoes. No shirts with metal snaps and no flip-flops or sandals.

  7. Please do not bring a guest along, as we can only accommodate patients having the test.

  8. You may resume your normal medications and activities after your test


The results of your exercise stress test will be reviewed with you at follow-up by our team of specialists and cardiologists at Polaris Heart Clinic. Potential results include:

  • Normal stress test: You may not need further testing at this time.

  • Abnormal stress test: You may need further testing or treatment.

If your test results suggest you may have coronary artery disease, further workup with a nuclear stress test, cardiac monitoring, or angiogram may be discussed as part of your treatment plan. 

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