What is a Stress Echo Test?
A Stress Echo is a non-invasive combination of a Treadmill Stress Test and an Echocardiogram (ECHO). The Treadmill Stress Test is a test that records the heart's electrical activity (rate and rhythm) during exercise.
The echocardiogram is a device that uses sound waves (ultrasound) to provide an image of the heart's internal structure, size and movement.
Why is a Stress Echo Test Done?
- This test helps the physician evaluate the patient's cardiac condition in relation to:
- Irregular heart rhythms
- If there is a decrease in blood and oxygen supply to the heart at rest and with exertion
- Level of cardiovascular conditioning
- Workload the heart can accept before symptoms develop
- How quickly the heart recovers from the exercise
What is Involved in Preparation?
- Eat only a light meal prior to the test
- No caffeine or smoking prior to the test
- Some important questions to ask your physician prior to the test are:
- Should your regular medications be taken the morning/day of the test?
- If you are on a Beta Blocker, should this be stopped 72 hours prior to the test for best results?
- Do not apply any lotions, powders or oils to the chest area
- Wear comfortable clothes and walking or athletic shoes
What is Expected Once I Arrive for the Stress Test?
- Once you register a Respiratory Therapist will take you to the Stress Test lab where patient information is entered into the computer.
- A technician will then take Echo pictures of your heart while at rest.
- The Respiratory Therapist will then place electrodes on your chest and a blood pressure cuff on your upper arm to monitor your EKG and blood pressure before, during and after the test.
- The therapist will then obtain a blood pressure and EKG while you are lying down and standing. Then the physician will be called. Once the physician arrives, the test can begin. There will always be a physician, therapist and ECHO tech in the room for the entire test.
- The physician will have you exercise on the treadmill gradually increasing the speed and incline of the treadmill every 3 minutes until you reach a predetermined target heart rate (THR). Depending on your endurance level this could last upwards of 10 minutes.
- Once you have reached your THR the staff will have you return to the bed and lie down. This must be done quickly since the ECHO tech has less than 1 minute to get the ECHO pictures before your heart rate returns to normal.
- A physician must order this test
- This test must be scheduled through Cardiopulmonary Diagnostics
- Bring the order with you and register at the registration desk between Lab and Cardiopulmonary Diagnostics
When Will I Know the Results of the Stress Test?
Since the physician is in the room for the entire test, he/she will be able to give you an answer right away on the results of your test.