Treadmill Exercise Stress Test

(Also called: cardiac stress test, treadmill stress test)


A treadmill exercise stress test is used to determine the effects of exercise on the heart. Exercise allows doctors to detect abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) and diagnose the presence or absence of coronary artery disease.

This test involves walking in place on a treadmill while monitoring the electrical activity of your heart. Throughout the test, the speed and incline of the treadmill increase. The results show how well your heart responds to the stress of different levels of exercise.


  1. A technologist will explain the test to you, take a brief medical history, and answer any questions you may have. Your blood pressure, heart rate, and electrocardiogram (ECG) will be monitored before, during, and after the test.
  2. You will be asked to remove all upper body clothing, and to put on a gown with the opening to the front.
  3. Adhesive electrodes will be put onto your chest to capture an ECG. The sites where the electrodes are placed will be cleaned with alcohol and shaved if necessary. A mild abrasion may also be used to ensure a good quality ECG recording.
  4. Your resting blood pressure, heart rate, and ECG will be recorded.
  5. You will be asked to walk on a treadmill. The walk starts off slowly, then the speed and incline increases at set times. It is very important that you walk as long as possible because the test is effort-dependent.
  6. You will be monitored throughout the test. If a problem occurs, the technologist will stop the test right away. It is very important for you to tell the technologist if you experience any symptoms, such as chest pain, dizziness, unusual shortness of breath, or extreme fatigue.
  7. Following the test, you will be asked to lie down. Your blood pressure, heart rate, and ECG will be monitored for three to five minutes after exercise.
  8. The data will be reviewed by a cardiologist after the test is completed. A report will be sent to the doctor(s) involved in your care. 

Patient instructions

Before Your Test

For 48 hours prior to your test, stop Viagra, Cialis and Levitra.

On the Day of Your Test

  • For two hours prior to your test: Do not eat or drink.
  • Take your usual medications unless otherwise directed by your physician. Bring all of your medications with you in the original bottles.
  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes that are suitable for walking on a treadmill.

After Your Test

There are no restrictions after the treadmill stress test.

Additional info

  • When you come to the Heart Institute, please check in with central registration in the front lobby. Then proceed to the S-Level and wait in the waiting room for your name to be called.
  • The treadmill stress test takes about 45 minutes to complete.
  • If you have any questions prior to your treadmill stress test, please call 613-696-7066, Monday to Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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Touring instructions: Click and drag your mouse anywhere in the picture to move about the room. On mobile devices, drag your finger to pan the scene and pinch to zoom in or out. By clicking or tapping the lowercase "i" hotspots, you will learn about the equipment in the room and how it is used.