Functional stress tests

Common reasons for stress tests:

To look for evidence of ischaemia (lack of blood supply when stressed)

To assess for viability of heart muscle (if part of the heart is still injured after previous heart attack)

To evaluate haemodynamic (heart rate / BP) response to exercise and its correlation to symptom

How is it done?

Functional stress tests may be necessary for a number of reasons - and there are multiple modalities of functional stress tests available depending on the exact clinical question we need to answer. Certain patient characteristics such as body habitus may also influence the suitability for individual stress tests.

  1. First, they are useful as confirmatory test to confirm or refute the suggestion of coronary artery disease when previous tests are equivocal;
  2. Second, if coronary artery disease and ischaemia is present, it provides estimation of the size of heart territory not receiving sufficient blood supply at stress (ischaemic burden) - which will help in management strategy
  3. Third, if there was previous heart attack, it will demonstrate whether the underlying heart muscle affected by previous heart attacks is still alive and worthwhile of further intervention.  

There are a number of different techniques in performing functional stress tests. This could range from simple exercise treadmill test, to perfusion imaging such as nuclear myocardial perfusion scan, and perfusion cardiac MRI. Alternatively, exercise or dobutamine stress echocardiogram is also available and useful. Your cardiologists will choose the most appropriate functional stress test for you based on your individual clinical circumstances.


Some of these are highly specialist investigations that need be performed at our local private hospitals. Each of these tests will require different preparation and your cardiologists will discuss these preparation with you during your consultation.

How soon will I get my results?

For simple investigation such as a exercise treadmill test, your cardiologists will be able to analyse the results as soon as the test is completed.

If you are referred for a functional stress imaing at our local private hospital, this will usually be done within one week. As soon as the results come back to us (usually within 24-48 hours after the test), we will collate the result of various investigations and discuss with you about further management recommendation.