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Exercise Testing

What is an Exercise Test?

Exercise testing measures the performance and capacity of the heart, lungs and blood vessels. As your body works harder, it requires more oxygen, so the heart must pump more blood to carry the oxygen to your working muscles.

What does the test involve?

Before being tested you will have been questioned and examined by your doctor who requested the test. A resting electrocardiogram (ECG) will be recorded prior
to performing exercise. Testing consists of walking or running on a treadmill. The speed and gradient of the treadmill will be increased every three minutes. The test is  eventually stopped if and when symptoms develop such as fatigue, breathlessness, tired legs, chest pain or other symptoms. Throughout the test, a doctor will be present and your pulse, blood pressure and ECG will be monitored. Some patients will wear a face mask and have their lung function assessed and monitored.

If at any time during the test you are feeling unwell in any way, report the symptom immediately.

Reasons for the procedure

Your doctor may recommend an exercise test to assist in:

  • Diagnosing coronary artery disease
  • Diagnosing a heart-related cause of symptoms, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, fainting or dizziness
  • Screening for heart-related conditions, such as heart rhythm or blood pressure abnormalities
  • Evaluating heart and lung capacity to undertake certain physical activities or training programmes
  • Assessing symptoms and function following medical treatment, procedures or surgery


Clinical exercise testing is usually performed in patients with known or suspected heart disease. While every effort is made to minimise the risk of the procedure, there is a small but definite risk of complications which you should be aware of. Serious potential complications include the possibility of a major disturbance of heart rhythm requiring resuscitation, the development of heart failure or prolonged angina (heart pain) or the development of a heart attack. Your doctor requesting the test is well aware of these risks and will have taken them into account before deciding to recommend the study. Be aware that emergency equipment and trained personnel are available to deal with any complications that may arise. Please feel free to ask any questions you have prior to agreeing to undergo the exercise test. You may deny consent at any time if you wish.

What you should know:

  • You are required to arrive15 minutes before your appointment time
  • If you arrive lateto the appointment you will need to wait until the end of the other scheduled appointments before you will be seen (approximately 4 hours)
  • Your child is not allowed to have any food or drink for the 2 hours before the appointment
  • Your child is not allowed to consume any caffeine on the day of the test this includes no chocolate, milo or cola drinks
  • Your childe will need to wear appropriate walking/running clothing and shoes no jeans, thongs, or bare feet
  • Only one family member is allowed to attend the appointment with Firstname the hospital has a Sibling Care Centre which provides child minding for a small fee ($2 per hour/per child) and operates from 9am-3pm Monday to Friday.  Please call 9845 3841 to make a booking.
  • Shower facilities are provided, but please bring your own toiletries
  • No photos are allowed to be taken during the test

Frequently asked questions

Do I need to bring my Medicare card?
Yes, please bring your Medicare card and then the hospital will be able to bulk-bill you for the test.

How long will the test take?
The whole procedure will usually take one hour. The actual time on the treadmill varies from person to person, depending on age, ability and fitness.

What happens after the test?
Patients will be monitored for at least five minutes postexercise and observed in the Cardiology Department until fully recovered. When you are fully recovered, a shower is available. You may wish to bring a change of clothes. The results of the exercise test will be forwarded to your doctor who requested the test.

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