Cardiac Stress Testing

A cardiac stress test is a medical test performed to evaluate arterial blood flow to and, indirectly, the amount of oxygen that will reach the myocardium, or heart muscle, during physical exercise compared to blood flow while at rest. As an exercise test, the results can also reflect overall physical fitness. These tests do not assess emotional stress or other connotations of the term.

Stress test abnormalities (i.e., "positive" results) are an indication of imbalances of relative blood flow to the left ventricular muscle tissue. This is important because the left ventricle of the heart performs the greatest amount of work involved in pumping blood around the body. Stress testing does not detect blood flow imbalances within the other three heart chambers.