The Heart and Vascular Clinic Nashville, TN

What Is An Exercise Stress Echocardiogram?

An Exercise Stress Echocardiogram is a test that uses exercise (typically on a treadmill or bike) in addition to sound waves, in order to evaluate your heart’s response to and ability to handle stress.

When Might I Need An Exercise Stress Echocardiogram?

The Exercise Stress Echocardiogram may be suggested by your doctor in order to:

  • Assess Your Heart’s Ability To Tolerate Physical Activity
  • Help Guide Treatment And Exercise Plans
  • Evaluate Your Risk For Coronary Artery Disease
  • Asses The Overall Function And Condition Of Your Heart

What Should I Expect?

The entire process can take anywhere from an hour to two and a half hours to complete (depending on the reason for testing).

During the procedure, you will have electrodes placed on several different areas of your chest, which will allow the sonographer to monitor the activity of your heart the entire time. Your blood pressure and resting heart rate will also be noted.

Before you begin any physical activity, you will remove your clothing from the waist up and lie down for the initial echocardiogram. During this procedure, the sonographer will place a gel on your chest and use a transducer to send and receive sound waves to and from your heart. These sound waves will then be recorded as images for later review.

After the initial echocardiogram is finished, you will then begin the period of physical activity, either on a treadmill or a bike. Over time, the exercise will become more taxing, until you reach exhaustion – but don’t worry, you will be monitored closely and under constant supervision.

Once you reach the point of exhaustion, you will lie down for a second echocardiogram. The images from this echocardiogram will also be recorded and will be evaluated in relation to the original echocardiogram.

Note: If you notice any chest pain, difficulty breathing or other unusual sensations during the test, please inform the sonographer immediately.

How Should I Prepare For The Test?

To prepare for the Exercise Stress Echocardiogram, dress comfortably and wear supportive shoes.

It is advised that you avoid caffeinated products or any other products that could alter your heart rate in the 24 hours prior to your test.

It is important to talk to your doctor:

  • About Any And All Medications You Are Taking
  • If There Is a Chance You Could Be Pregnant
  • If You Have Any Medical Conditions

If you have any questions about an Exercise Stress Echocardiogram, please ask your doctor during your next visit.

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