Stress Echocardiogram

The test determines:

  • How well your heart tolerates activity
  • How well your heart and valves function
  • If you may have coronary artery disease
  • The effectiveness of your cardiac treatment plan, if you have one

During a stress echocardiogram, you wear small patches (electrodes) on your chest. The electrodes are attached to an electrocardiogram (EKG) monitor. This measures your heart’s electrical activity during the test. A sonographer measures your resting heart rate and blood pressure. This is called a resting EKG.

Next you will have an echocardiogram (echo). An echocardiogram is a test that uses sound waves to create a moving picture of your heart. The test shows the size and shape of your heart. It also shows how well your heart chambers and valves are working. It is mainly used to identify areas of poor blood flow to your heart. These are caused by a narrowing of your coronary arteries.

A device called a transducer is moved back and forth over your chest. The transducer sends special sound waves through your chest wall to your heart. The sound waves bounce off the structures of your heart. A computer converts these sound waves into pictures on a screen.

After the echo, you exercise on a treadmill or a stationary cycle. This is called an exercise stress test. Your lab technician will have you gradually increase your intensity of exercise. You exercise until you are exhausted. Your lab technician watches for any changes on the EKG monitor. When you cannot exercise any longer, you will lie down and have another echo.

Your doctor will talk with you about the results and answer any questions you may have.