Stress Echocardiogram

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Stress Echocardiogram

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.

Registration Requirements:

  • 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.