Heart rate stress test


The heart rate stress test, also called a cardiac stress test, is a tool used to estimate the upper limit that a patient's heart can safely beat during physical activity within a short period of time, a measure called the maximum heart rate. The maximum heart rate is sometimes abbreviated as HRmax or MHR. The heart rate stress test also compares the rate that the heart beats at rest versus during exercise. This upper limit is partially determined by blood flow to one part of the heart.
Calculating a person's maximum heart rate through a heart rate stress test or equation has been of interest to medical science, in particular exercise physiology, since the early 1930s. Though other methods exist, the heart rate stress test is considered the most reliable and accurate means of safely measuring the maximum heart rate.
The heart rate stress test is sometimes used to estimate the physical fitness of a person and can be used by health care professionals such as physical therapists, to plan the type and duration of exercise that a person may need.
The heart rate stress test is part of the procedure for diagnosing coronary artery disease and possible causes of chest pain. The test is also part of the standard evaluation of determining the likelihood that a patient will have a heart attack.
The test is also given to evaluate how effective treatment for a heart condition has been and to estimate the patient's health prospects in the future.

Related Terms

Cardiac stress test, ECG, electrocardiogram, HRmax, maximum heart rate, MHR.