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Exercise Tolerance Test (ETT)

Exercise Tolerance Test (ETT)

“Exercise tolerance testing is commonly used to determine the cause of chest pain and dyspnoea on exertion. These symptoms can be associated with a partial blockage of the coronary arteries. It can also be used as a screening tool to for patients with cardiac risk factors.”



What is an Exercise Tolerance Test (ETT)? Also known as Stress ECG or just ‘Exercise Test’)

An exercise assesses your tolerance to exercise, whilst recording the hearts electrical activity and blood pressure in response to exertion.

What does it involve?

Two physiologists will usually be present when you have the test. You will be asked to undress to the waist and put on a gown that should be left open to the front. If you require a chaperone, you may bring a friend or relative. Alternatively, the hospital may provide a chaperone at your request. You will be asked to lie on a bed/couch. Electrodes (stickers) will be attached to your chest and connected to the machine. These will be used to monitor your heart rate. You will then be asked to exercise by walking on a treadmill. The exercise will be gentle at first but will get progressively more strenuous in three minute intervals. Your blood pressure will also be checked regularly throughout the test in two minute intervals.

The test will continue until one of the following: You reached a target heart rate; you develop chest pain, abnormal ECG changes, if you are to tired or if you feel the need to stop due to symptoms such as leg pain.

Overall the Exercise Treadmill Test, including recovery time will take around 45 minutes to complete.

How will I feel during the test?

You would not feel any different than after doing mild to strenuous exercise.

Sometimes, people experience chest pain, dizziness, palpitations or shortness of breath during exercise – this should be mentioned to Physiologist as soon as it occurs.

Why is it being done?

An Exercise Treadmill Test will help the doctor find out if you have coronary heart disease, as it shows whether your heart muscle is getting enough blood from the coronary arteries during physical activity.

It is also helpful for looking at how well your heart is working after heart surgeries and procedures.


An exercise test is generally safe, and complications are rare.


Wear loose fitting clothing and comfortable shoes or trainers.

We suggest that you do not eat a heavy meal in the two hours before the test.

After the Test

You will be able to return home or to work following the test. There are shower facilities available within the department.


We are unable to provide results of the test on the day of your appointment. All results will be sent to the referring doctor. You will need to arrange a follow up appointment with the doctor to discuss the results of the test(s).

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