A stress test is used to make sure the heart muscles are able to get enough blood when the heart rate and workload are increased. To do this, your heart needs to be looked at during a period of rest and then again during a period of increased activity. A chemical stress test uses chemical agents injected into the body through the vein. These chemicals make the heart function as if it were under stress.

There are many different ways to examine the heart during a stress test. The heart can be examined with:

A chemical stress test is used when a traditional stress test (called a cardiac stress test) cannot be done. A cardiac stress test requires you to walk on a treadmill or ride a stationary bicycle until your heart rate reaches a level where your heart is "stressed." You may not be able to participate in this test if you have certain conditions, such as:

In this case, a chemical stress test is used. This test is often used to help your doctor:

  • Determine if you have a heart condition causing your chest pain
  • Determine if arteries to the heart have blockages or narrowing ( coronary artery disease [CAD])
  • Identify an irregular heart rhythm
  • Monitor the heart's response to treatment or procedures
  • Plan rehabilitation after a heart attack