Supervised Exercise



A cardiac stress test is a recording of the heart's activity during exercise. The heart is monitored using electrodes to record its electrical activity. Heart activity is also measured by looking at changes in blood pressure and pulse during the test.

Possible Complications

Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:

  • Developing chest pain
  • Developing an irregular heart rhythm
  • Having a heart attack, but this is extremely rare

Technicians will be alert for any signs of heart or lung problems. Immediate action will be taken if complications happen. A doctor, most often a cardiologist, will be available during the stress test as well.



This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.

a (Exercise Stress Test; Exercise Tolerance Test)


American Heart Association 

Heart Rhythm Society 


Canadian Cardiovascular Society 

Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada 


Cardiac stress testing. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: . Updated May 17, 2016. Accessed October 10, 2016.

Darrow M. Ordering and understanding the exercise stress test. Am Fam Physician. 1999:59(2):401-410.

Exercise stress test. American Heart Association website. Available at: Updated September 3, 2015. Accessed March 1, 2016.

What is cardiac stress testing? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: Updated December 14, 2011. Accessed March 1, 2016.