An echocardiogram (also called an echo) uses sound waves to make an image of your heart. A device called a transducer is moved across your chest. It looks like a microphone. The transducer sends sound waves that echo off your heart and back to the transducer. These echoes are turned into moving pictures of your heart that can be seen on a video screen.
In a stress echocardiogram, an echo is done while your heart is at rest and after your heart is made to work hard (stressed). You exercise to make your heart work hard.
Sometimes, instead of exercise, a medicine is used that makes your heart respond like you have been exercising.
A stress echocardiogram is usually done to find out if you might have reduced blood flow to your heart. This is known as coronary artery disease.
Reduced blood flow is easier to see when your heart is put under some form of stress.
You will first have an echocardiogram before exercising. This is called the baseline. You then exercise for a specific amount of time and then have another echocardiogram.
This test usually takes 30 to 60 minutes.
When the echocardiogram is finished, you will exercise and then have another echocardiogram. If you are not able to exercise, you may be given medicine that stimulates your heart to beat harder and faster, as if you were exercising. You most likely will either walk on a treadmill or pedal a stationary bicycle. While you exercise:
An exercise stress echocardiogram takes about 30 to 60 minutes.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if you have any problems.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to keep a list of the medicines you take. Ask your doctor when you can expect to have your test results.
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Current as of: May 6, 2016
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
& Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
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