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Stress Echo Test
What is a Stress Echo Test?
A stress echo test combines an ultrasound study of the heart with an exercise test. This allows the doctor to learn how your heart functions when it is made to work harder. An echo stress test may be recommended to evaluate chest pain and diagnose heart disease.
What can I expect before the test?
- You will be asked to eat a light breakfast two hours before the test and abstain from caffeine.
- You must not take any beta-blocker medication for 48 hours prior to the test (unless otherwise advised by your physician). If you have a question about your medication, please consult your physician and/or pharmacist.
- You should wear loose and comfortable clothing that is suitable for exercise. Wear comfortable walking shoes or sneakers.
- Please bring a current list of your medications with you to the test.
What can I expect during the test?
There will be a cardiologist and two technologists present with you during the test.
Several electrodes will be placed on your chest.
Your blood pressure will be checked.
The test is divided into three parts:
For the first part of the test, you will be asked to lie down on your left side on a table in the exercise room so that the technologist can obtain pictures of your heart utilizing ultrasonography (sound waves). To improve the quality of the pictures, a colorless gel is usually applied to the area of the chest where the sonogram will be taken. Pictures of your heart will be recorded on videotape.
For the second part of the test, you will be asked to walk on a treadmill. The treadmill starts slowly, then increases speed and incline every three minutes. Your heart rate, rhythm and blood pressure will be closely monitored during the exercise. You will exercise as long as you can. It is important to report any unusual symptoms such as chest or arm pain, shortness of breath, leg fatigue or dizziness. This is a heart rate based test, so it is important that you exercise as long as you can.
The third part of the test occurs immediately after the treadmill stops. You will be escorted to the imaging table again, very quickly but safely. You will be asked to turn onto your left side. The technologist will again image your heart. These pictures will be recorded onto the same videotape.
What can I expect after the test?
The cardiologist will compare the two sets of ultrasound images (before and after exercise) side by side to see how your heart responds to the stress of exercise.
Your heart rate, rhythm, and blood pressure will be monitored for about 5-10 minutes following the test to make sure they return to normal.
You doctor will talk to you about the results at a later time.