Overview of exercise stress testing

Ann Saudi Med. 2006 Jan-Feb;26(1):1-6. doi: 10.5144/0256-4947.2006.1.


Exercise stress testing is a non-invasive, safe and affordable screening test for coronary artery disease (CAD), provided there is careful patient selection for better predictive value. Patients at moderate risk for CAD are best served with this kind of screening, with the exception of females during their reproductive period, when a high incidence of false positive results has been reported. Patients with a high pretest probability for CAD should undergo stress testing combined with cardiac imaging or cardiac catheterization directly. Data from the test, other than ECG changes, should be taken into consideration when interpreting the exercise stress test since it has a strong prognostic value, i.e. workload, heart rate rise and recovery and blood pressure changes. Only a low-level exercise stress test can be performed early post myocardial infarction (first week), and a full exercise test should be delayed 4 to 6 weeks post uncomplicated myocardial infarction. The ECG interpretation with myocardial perfusion imaging follows the same criteria, but the sensitivity is much lower and the specificity is high enough to overrule the imaging part.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Contraindications
  • Electrocardiography
  • Exercise Test*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Myocardial Infarction
  • Myocardial Ischemia / diagnosis
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sensitivity and Specificity