What Are the Different Types of Cardiac Stress Tests?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Apr 5, 2020 8:14:53 AM ET
Cardiac Arrest (1)/CC-BY 2.0

A cardiac stress test can be performed with an exercise stress test, dobutamine or adenosine stress test, stress echocardiogram or a nuclear stress test, explains WebMD. An exercise stress test involves walking on a treadmill, while the doctor monitors the patient for chest pain and electrocardiogram changes.

People who cannot tolerate exercise receive a dobutamine or adenosine stress test, according to WebMD. During this procedure the patient is injected with a drug that makes the heart respond in the same way that it does to exercise. The patient is monitored for signs of chest pain and electrocardiogram changes. A stress echocardiogram is a procedure that creates an image of the heart using ultrasound waves, explains MedlinePlus. The procedure is performed at rest and during the peak of exercise.

A nuclear stress test measures blood flow to the heart at rest and during exercise, according to Mayo Clinic. The patient is first injected with a radioactive dye and a set of images is taken with an X-ray machine. The procedure continues with an exercise stress test, after which the patient receives another dye injection and another set of images is taken. Patients who are not able to exercise receive an injection with a drug that increases the heart rate. The images taken before and after the procedure are compared and can reveal inadequate blood flow to the heart.