A stress test may be scheduled in children and adults when a doctor wants to gather additional functional information about the heart. This test, sometimes called an exercise stress test or cardiopulmonary exercise testing, measures how well an individual's heart functions when it has to work harder.
A stress test forces the heart to work harder while measures of heart function are monitored. This test can help determine if the heart muscle is receiving enough blood flow, if the heart can pump enough blood to the body, if there's a problem with the electrical system of the heart, and if symptoms are or aren't related to the heart.
The test involves asking a patient to exercise on a treadmill or stationary bike or take medications that will make the heart respond as if the patient is exercising. During exercise, heart function is monitored by an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) machine that measures the electrical impulses in the heart. Common medications used for medication (pharmacological) stress tests include dipyridamole, dobutamine, and Adenosine.