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Chemical Stress Test
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Chemical Stress Test?

A stress test is used to make sure the heart muscles are able to get enough blood when the heart rate and workload are increased. To do this, your heart needs to be looked at during a period of rest and then again during a period of increased activity. A chemical stress test uses chemical agents injected into the body through the vein. These chemicals make the heart function as if it were under stress.

There are many different ways to examine the heart during a stress test. The heart can be examined with:

A chemical stress test is used when a traditional stress test (called a cardiac stress test) cannot be done. A cardiac stress test requires you to walk on a treadmill or ride a stationary bicycle until your heart rate reaches a level where your heart is "stressed." You may not be able to participate in this test if you have certain conditions, such as:

  • Chronic back pain
  • Arthritis
  • Stroke

In this case, a chemical stress test is used. This test is often used to help your doctor:

  • Determine if you have a heart condition causing your chest pain
  • Determine if arteries to the heart have blockages or narrowing ( coronary artery disease [CAD])
  • Identify an irregular heart rhythm
  • Monitor the heart's response to treatment or procedures
  • Plan rehabilitation...

Possible Complications

Complications are rare. If you are planning to have this test, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Heart attack (rare)

Technicians will be checking for signs of heart or lung problems. They will be prepared to take action right away if complications develop. A cardiologist (heart specialist) will also be available during the test.

Call Your Doctor

After the test, call your doctor if any of the following occurs:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Racing or irregular heart beat
  • Dizziness or weakness
  • Any other unusual symptoms or concerns

If you think you have an emergency, CALL 911.