Stress Echocardiogram

What is a stress echocardiogram?

A stress echo examines your heart in action. It combines an ultrasound of the heart with a stress test. A stress test, often called a treadmill test, measures how your heart works when experiencing the added workload or “stress” of exercise.

How should I prepare for a stress echo?

You should not eat or drink anything but water for 3 - 4 hours prior to the test. 

Patients on beta-blockers (a treatment for hypertension and coronary artery disease) are asked to not take their medication the day of the procedure. Beta-blockers often diminish the heart rate response. A person taking this medication will have a slower at rest heart rate, and may have a hard time reaching ideal heart rate during the treadmill portion of the exam. 

Finally, you should wear comfortable clothing and shoes appropriate for exercise. 

The stress echo typically takes 90 minutes.

How is a stress echo performed?

First, a patient lies on an exam table while a technician performs an echocardiogram as a baseline reading of the heart’s left ventricular function at rest. 

The patient then undergoes a standard treadmill test, where the speed and grade of the treadmill are increased every three minutes. At each interval, the technician checks the patient for a change in symptoms, usually pain or shortness of breath. The patient remains on the treadmill until they become symptomatic or they reach their target heart rate. 

Lastly, the patient quickly returns to the exam table and receives another echocardiogram for the tech to assess left ventricular function for changes.

Who needs a stress echo?

A stress echo test might be ordered if coronary artery disease is suspected, or if abnormalities are found during a baseline electrocardiogram or echocardiogram and require further examination. 

For more information, contact Traverse Heart & Vascular at 800-637-4033.