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What Are the Risks of Stress Testing?

Stress tests pose little risk of serious harm. The chance of these tests causing a heart attack or death is about 1 in 5,000. More common, but less serious side effects linked to stress testing include:

  • An arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat). Often, an arrhythmia will go away quickly once you're at rest. But if it persists, you may need monitoring or treatment in a hospital.
  • Low blood pressure, which can cause you to feel dizzy or faint. This problem may go away once your heart stops working hard; it usually doesn't require treatment.
  • Jitteriness or discomfort while getting medicine to make your heart work hard and beat fast (you may be given medicine if you can’t exercise). These side effects usually go away shortly after you stop getting the medicine. Sometimes the symptoms may last a few hours.

Also, some of the medicines used for pharmacological stress tests can cause wheezing, shortness of breath, and other asthma-like symptoms. Sometimes these symptoms are severe and require treatment.

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Stress Testing Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for Stress Testing, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov.

 
December 14, 2011 Last Updated Icon

The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.

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