A stress echocardiogram is an exercise stress test, often performed on a treadmill, with ultrasound images of the heart taken before and after exercise.
The test can be used to assess for causes of chest pain and shortness of breath, and a number of other heart issues.
These ultrasound pictures can tell us how the heart is pumping and whether there may be any blockages in the arteries supplying blood to the heart muscle. Extra information gathered from the ultrasound includes how the heart valves are opening and closing, how the heart is relaxing and pressures in the right side of the heart.
Treadmill exercise also allows us to assess exercise capacity and fitness level.
What to expect
Patients are contacted several days prior to the test, to advise of the need to wear comfortable clothing and shoes. Certain medications may need to be withheld for a couple of days prior to the test – this will also be advised at this time.
The test will take approximately 30 minutes.
When having a stress echocardiogram, you will be asked to remove any clothing from the waist up – so the sonographer can apply electrodes for monitoring and take the ultrasound pictures of the heart.
- electrode patches are applied to the chest with wires attaching to the ECG monitor box, which is strapped around your waist
- an ultrasound of your heart at rest will be performed, lying down on the bed
- you are then asked to walk on a treadmill, with the gradient and speed of the treadmill increasing every 2-3 minutes. You are encouraged to exercise for as long as possible to ensure an accurate test. Your ECG and blood pressure will be closely monitored during exercise
- once the exercise test is complete, the sonographer will perform another ultrasound of your heart while it is beating quickly. The cardiologist will then compare the images of your heart at rest to those after the exercise test. Once the test is complete, they will advise you immediately of the results and a management plan. A detailed written report of the results of your test will also be sent to your referring doctor.
Our fully accredited service offers stress echocardiograms at our Shepparton Regional Hub at 558 Wyndham St, Shepparton.
Watch this video to see what’s involved when having a stress echocardiogram: