What is it?

Stress echocardiography is a non-invasive diagnostic test that combines ultrasound imaging of the heart with exercise to evaluate the heart’s response to stress. This test is used to diagnose and evaluate heart conditions such as coronary artery disease, arrhythmia, heart valve, and heart muscle disease.

During a stress echocardiography, a special ultrasound machine called a echocardiogram is used to create images of the heart before and after the heart is stressed. This test can help to determine whether there is adequate blood flow to the heart during stress and can identify areas of the heart that may not be receiving enough blood from the coronary arteries.

Who is it for?

Stress echocardiography may be recommended for patients who have symptoms of heart disease, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or palpitations. It may also be recommended for patients with known heart disease who need to be evaluated for the effectiveness of their treatment or the progression of their condition.

Before undergoing stress echocardiography, patients may need to undergo tests, such as a physical exam, electrocardiogram (ECG), and/or blood tests, to ensure that they are healthy enough to undergo the stress of exercise.

What to expect on the day?

On the day of the stress echocardiography test, you should come to our rooms in attire that is appropriate for exercise – proper footwear (no sandals), comfortable pants or shorts. Please refrain from having a large meal for two hours prior to the test.

During the test, the technician will apply electrodes to your chest to monitor the heart rate and rhythm. You will then lie down on the exam bed and have a special gel applied to your chest. The technician will then place an ultrasound probe on the chest to create images of the heart.

You will then be asked to walk on a treadmill which commences at slow walking pace up a small incline. The intensity of the exercise will gradually increase to induce stress on the heart. Some fit patients may exercise to the level of a jog but most will get to a brisk walk. The test ends when you cannot exercise any longer, a target heart rate is achieved or the cardiologist feels it is best to terminate exercise.

Throughout the test, the cardiologist and technician will monitor the your heart rate, blood pressure, and symptoms to ensure that you are safe and that the test is accurate.

After the stress part of the test is complete, you will lie back down on the exam table while the ultrasound images of the heart are taken again to evaluate the heart’s response to stress. Overall, stress echocardiography is a safe and effective diagnostic test that can help to diagnose and evaluate a wide range of heart conditions.