A stress echocardiography assesses the possibilities that you have significant narrowings in your heart arteries. By comparing your heart function before and after exercise using echocardiography, your cardiologist can determine whether enough blood is getting to your heart or if a narrowing is restricting this supply. The test involves has three steps. Firstly a transthoracic chocardiogram is performed to assess the resting structure and function of your heart. You will then be asked to perform exercise on a treadmill while being monitored. After the exercise treadmill is complete another echocardiogram is performed to assess your hearts pump function after stress.
At the beginning of the test, your heart will be imaged using ultrasound (called echocardiography). The technician will put a thick gel on your chest. The gel may feel cold but it does not harm your skin. Then, the technician will use the transducer to send and receive sound waves. These sound waves are not audible. The transducer will be placed directly on the left side of your chest, over your heart. The technician will press firmly as he or she moves the transducer across your chest and will ask you to briefly hold your breath during the test.
You will then walk on a treadmill and the grade and speed will increase every 3 minutes. Your cardiologist will be present throughout this part of the test and your blood pressure, heart rate and symptoms will be constantly monitored. It will be stopped when you cannot walk/run any further, when you have reached an appropriate target or at the cardiologist’s discretion.
When the treadmill stops you need to cross back to the echo bed for the technician to record more pictures. You will be asked to breathe out and hold your breath briefly several times so the images can be recorded. It is very important that you do your best to hold your breathe during this part of the examination because the technician has only 1-2 minutes to obtain these images before your heart slows down to a normal rate.
Most stress echo tests take about 30 minutes.
Those who are not in a position to do exercise can undergo pharmacological stress echo ( IV.Dobutamine )
If you are taking certain medications, your cardiologist may ask you to hold off taking this medication on the day of the test. This will be confirmed prior to your procedure.
Men should wear comfortable two-piece clothing allowing access to the chest area and comfortable walking shoes/runners. Areas of chest hair may need to be shaved to allow the electrodes to adhere to the skin. If required the technician will do this at the time of the test.
Ladies should wear comfortable two-piece clothing allowing access to the chest area and comfortable walking shoes/runners.