An Exercise Stress Echocardiogram is a combination of two common tests: the exercise stress test and the echocardiogram. It involves walking on a treadmill while your heart is monitored with an electrocardiogram (ECG) so we can assess your heart function both at rest and while exercising. A stress echo is done as part of a stress test. During an exercise stress echocardiogram, you exercise to make your heart rate increase. A technician will take pictures of your heart using the echocardiogram machine before your exercise and as soon as you finish.
Why do I need an exercise stress echocardiogram?
Some heart problems, such as coronary heart disease, are easier to diagnose when the heart is working hard and beating fast. Adding echo to the exercise stress echocardiogram test increases the sensitivity of the stress test in detecting coronary artery disease or narrowing of the coronary vessels.
The exercise stress echocardiogram also helps:
• To assess the heart’s general function and structures
• To evaluate blood pressure levels during exercise
• To assess exercise tolerance in patients with known or suspected coronary artery disease
• To determine limits for safe exercise in patients recovering from a cardiac event, such as a heart attack or heart surgery
• To evaluate the cardiac status of a patient before surgery
What is the test like?
The entire test will take approximately 1 ½ hours. First, a standard echocardiogram will be performed while you are at rest. You will be asked to remove your clothing from the waist up and put on a gown or a sheet. After lying on an examination table, the technician will apply a cool gel to your chest. The transducer will be moved back and forth across your chest to record several views of your heart.
Next, a blood pressure cuff will be applied to your arm to monitor your blood pressure and ECG electrodes will be attached across your chest to monitor your heart throughout the exercise portion of the test, which will begin on a treadmill. The treadmill will move slowly at first, then the speed and incline will increase incrementally. A stress test is the safest environment to challenge yourself physically as you are closely monitored under the supervision of an experienced cardiologist. Tell the doctor if you have chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness or leg fatigue. The doctor may end the test when you reach your peak heart rate, when you get too tired, or when you experience symptoms.
You will be assisted back to the exam table and an additional echocardiogram will be done. Dr. Fenster can then compare the two sets of images (before and after exercise) to see how your heart responds to the stress of exercise.
What should I bring with me to the exercise stress echocardiogram?
- Inhaler, if you use one
- Insurance card
- List of medications/herbal remedies and dosages
- Previous echocardiogram if from outside facility
Where will the exercise stress echocardiogram test be performed?
The exercise stress echocardiogram will be performed right in Dr. Fenster’s office:
Cardiac Institute of the Palm Beaches, PA
3355 Burns Road
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410
If you are unable to keep the appointment, please contact us at the phone number above at least 24 hours prior to your scheduled time.
Also see: Standard Echocardiogram