Stress Echocardiogram

What is a Stress Echocardiogram?

Stress echocardiography is a test that uses ultrasound imaging to show how well your heart muscle is working when you exercise.

What should I expect during the Stress Echocardiogram?

A resting echocardiogram will be done first. While you lie on your left side with your left arm out, a small device called a transducer is held against your chest. A special gel is used to help the ultrasound waves get to your heart.

After the initial echocardiogram, you will be escorted to the treadmill and will be asked to walk .  The treadmill will start slowly but the speed and incline will increase every three minutes.  The amount of time on the treadmill will depend on your level of fitness and age.

Your doctor will ask you to stop:

  • When your heart is beating at the target rate
  • When you are too tired to continue
  • If you are having chest pain or a change in your blood pressure or changes in the electrocardiogram that worries the provider administering the test

Your blood pressure and heart rhythm (ECG) will be monitored throughout the procedure.

Additional echocardiogram images will be taken immediately after exercise. The technician may ask you to hold your breath in order to obtain better pictures.  The images will show whether any parts of the heart muscle do not work as well when your heart rate increases. This is a sign that part of the heart may not be getting enough blood or oxygen because of narrowed or blocked arteries.  The test may also be used to assess the status of heart valve

The test takes approximately one hour.

For Testing Preparation, see patient instructions.  

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