What is an Exercise Stress Echo Test?
An exercise stress echo is a non-invasive and safe test. This is performed to ensure that your heart and the blood vessels within the heart are working properly.
This test is also known as stress echocardiography, echocardiography stress test, and stress echocardiogram.
In the stress echocardiogram test, two common tests are combined—the Exercise Stress Test and the Ultrasound. The stress echo test involves putting excess pressure on your heart to pump blood by making you walk on a treadmill. In case you are not in a condition to exercise (if you have joint pain), then your doctor may give you a medicine that will make your heart beat faster just like when you are exercising.
During the test, your blood pressure and your heartbeat are continuously monitored with an Echocardiogram (ECG). Also, multiple images of your heart blood vessels are generated using sound waves, both at rest and after exercising, when your heart rate reaches peak levels.
Doctors use exercise stress echo test as a screening tool to determine your risk of a heart attack. This test helps to find out if you have an irregular heartbeat or any blockages in the blood vessels of your heart.
Explore This Article:
|1||What Is the Purpose of an Exercise Stress Echo?|
|2||How Should I Prepare for an Exercise Stress Echo?|
|3||How Is an Exercise Stress Echo Performed?|
|4||How Long Does an Exercise Stress Echo Take?|
|5||Are There Any Risks in Taking an Exercise Stress Echo?|
|6||When Will I Receive My Results?|
Who Should Get an Exercise Stress Echo Cardiogram Test?
Your doctor may recommend a stress echocardiography test if you have one or more of the following ailments or symptoms:
- Chest pain
- Coronary artery disease (narrowing or blockage of the heart blood vessels)
- Difficulty breathing
- Fluttering, pounding, or racing of your heart
- Heart attack
- If you are 50 or older with a family history of heart disease
- Shortness of breath
- Uneven heartbeats
- Unusual sounds detected when your doctor listens to your heart
What Is the Purpose of an Exercise Stress Echo?
Your doctor may recommend an exercise stress echo to:
- Check your risk for heart diseases such as coronary artery disease (CAD) in which your arteries become narrow or blocked.
- Check if enough blood is flowing through your heart when you exercise.
- Learn how your ongoing heart medications are working.
- Identify abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia).
- Predict your risk of getting a heart attack.
- Help you create a safe exercise program if you have heart disease risk factors.
Depending on the results, if your doctor suspects a coronary artery disease, then you may be asked to take more tests such as Cardiac Risk Blood Test Panel.
How Do I Prepare? Do I Need to Fast for Echo Treadmill Test?
- Wear loose and comfortable clothing.
- Wear comfortable shoes.
- Stop smoking and stop drinking alcohol at least 3 hours before the test.
- Inform your doctor if you have any joint pain or other medical problems that will stop you from exercising.
- Don’t eat or drink anything, except water, for 4 hours before the test.
- Don’t drink or eat anything with caffeine for 12 hours before the test.
- Bring your LabFinder Order and Insurance Card to your appointment.
- Bring your inhaler (if you use one) to the test.
- Ask your doctor if you should take your medicines before the test or not.
How Is an Exercise Stress Echo Performed?
The exercise stress echo will be performed by your doctor or a technician under your doctor’s guidance.
- Before starting the exercise stress echo, the technician will place 10 small, flat, and sticky patches on your chest that will be connected to an ECG or EKG (electrocardiogram) machine. This machine will monitor your heart rate (how fast your heart beats) throughout the test.
- The technician will measure your resting heart rate and blood pressure.
- You will then be asked to lie on your left side on an examination table and the technician will perform a resting ultrasound.
- The technician will apply a warm water-based gel on your chest and will place a small hand-held camera (known as probe), attached to an ultrasound screen, over your chest to see an outline of the heart’s movement. Multiple screenshots of the moving images will be taken using the ultrasound machine.
- You will then be asked to walk on a treadmill or pedal a stationary bicycle.
- Then the speed of the treadmill or the bicycle will be increased after every few minutes. The incline of the treadmill will also be increased.
- You will have to keep exercising until you feel tired.
- You may be asked to breathe into a tube for a couple of minutes.
- During the test, your heart rate and blood pressure will be monitored.
- When you cannot exercise any longer, you will have to get off the treadmill and quickly return to the examination table.
- You will have to lie on your left side again, so the technician can perform another ultrasound to take more images of your heart working under stress.
- After the test, you will have to walk slowly for a few minutes to cool down. Your blood pressure and heart rate will be monitored again to ensure it is back to normal.
You may ask the doctor to stop the test at any time if you experience any of the following:
- pain in your chest or arm
- become too tired
- shortness of breath
- feel dizzy during the test
Also, your doctor may stop the test early if the ECG indicates abnormal heart rhythm or your blood pressure is abnormally high or low.
How Long Does a Stress Echo Take?
An Exercise Stress Echo is usually completed within 90 minutes. While the test itself takes only around 6 to 15 minutes, additional time is required for preparation before the test and to cool down after the test.
Are There Any Risks in Taking an Exercise Stress Echo?
The stress test is normally safe. Rarely, an adverse reaction may occur like the following:
- Chest pain
- Low blood pressure
- Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias)
- Heart attack (myocardial infarction) occurs very rarely
When Will I Receive Test Results?
Once the exercise stress echo is completed, you will receive your results within 3-5 business days in your LabFinder portal.