Stress echocardiography is a test that uses ultrasound imaging to determine how the heart muscles respond to stress. It is mainly used to diagnose and evaluate coronary artery disease.
Echocardiography stress test; Stress test - echocardiography
A stress echocardiogram includes the following steps:
This test differs from an exercise stress test, which does not use ultrasound images.
If you are not able to exercise, you will receive a medication such as dobutamine through a vein (intravenous line). This type of medicine will make your heart beat faster and harder, similar to when you exercise.
Ask your health care provider if you should take any of your routine medicines on the day of the test (especially if you are taking heart medication). Some medicines may interfere with test results.
It is important to tell your doctor if you have taken any of the following medications within the past 24 hours (1 day):
DO NOT eat or drink for at least 3 hours before the test.
Wear loose, comfortable clothing. You will be asked to sign a consent form before the test.
Electrodes (conductive patches) will be placed on your chest, arms, and legs to record the heart's activity. The preparation of the electrode sites on your chest may produce a mild burning or stinging sensation.
The blood pressure cuff on your arm will be inflated every few minutes, producing a squeezing sensation that may feel tight. Baseline measurements of heart rate and blood pressure will be taken before you start exercising.
You will start walking on a treadmill or pedaling a stationary bicycle. The pace and incline of the treadmill will gradually be increased.
Rarely, people experience chest discomfort, palpitations, dizziness, or shortness of breath during the test.
The test is performed to see whether your heart muscle is getting enough blood flow and, therefore, enough oxygen when it is working hard (under stress).
The results of this stress test can help your doctor:
Your doctor may request this test if you:
A normal result means that blood flow through the coronary arteries is normal.
Note: Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different medical centers. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.
Abnormal results may be due to:
After the test you may need:
The risks are very low, and health care professionals will monitor you during the entire procedure. Rare complications include:
A stress echocardiogram is a very effective, noninvasive test that can help determine whether you have blockages in your coronary arteries. If there are blockages, it can determine the severity of the problem. Early diagnosis and monitoring of heart disease allows treatment to begin early.
This test does not require any radiation.
Morrow DA, Gersh BA. Chronic coronary artery disease. In: Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2007:chap 54.
Fleisher LA, Eagle KA. Anesthesia and noncardiac surgery in patients with heart disease. In: Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 80.