Treadmill Stress Echocardiogram
What is it?
Stress echocardiography assesses the likelihood that you have significant narrowings in your heart arteries. By comparing your heart function before and after exercise using echocardiography, your Cardiologist can infer whether enough blood is getting to your heart or if a narrowing is restricting this supply. Usually, we stress your heart with exercise.
Do not eat or drink for 1 hour before the test. Also, ask your doctor about whether you should withhold any of your medicines as some can affect the accuracy of this test.
All patients attending our clinics are treated with the utmost respect. Many of our testing procedures require patients to undress. A curtained area in the procedure room is available for patients to change in private. During procedures patient contact is unavoidable and this will be explained to you as your test progresses e.g. the need to place electrodes, or the application of the gel and ultrasound probe to examine your heart.
If you would prefer to have a female technologist and/or cardiologist for religious or personal reasons we will comply whenever possible. Please discuss this with our staff when making our appointment.
We always prioritize our patient’s feelings and personal needs before practicality in the procedure room providing there is no potential compromise of patient safety.
What should I expect?
A technician will attach stick-on ECG electrodes to your chest after cleaning these areas with alcohol. These electrodes attach to an ECG machine, which records your heart’s electrical activity. You will also wear a blood pressure cuff around your arm, which measures your blood pressure during the test. At the beginning of the test, your heart will be imaged using ultrasound (called echocardiography). The technician will put a thick gel on your chest. The gel may feel cold but it does not harm your skin. Then, the technician will use the transducer to send and receive sound waves. The transducer will be placed directly on the left side of your chest, over your heart. The technician will press firmly as he or she moves the transducer across your chest and will ask you to briefly hold your breath during the test.
After the initial pictures are taken, you will walk on a treadmill and the grade and speed will increase every few minutes. This will make you feel like you are walking uphill. You should exercise for as long as possible to maximise the workload on the heart and ensure your test is as accurate as possible
After you have finished exercising, you will lie down on an examination bed and the technician will take more echocardiography pictures. You will be asked to breathe out and hold your breath briefly several times so the images can be recorded. It is very important that you do your best to hold your breath during this part of the examination because the technician has only 1-2 minutes to obtain these images before your heart slows down to a normal rate.
Most stress echo tests take about 45 minutes. Complications are rare during exercise stress echocardiography. Heart attack or abnormal heart rhythms may occur rarely. The risk of death is about 1 in 10,000. The results will be sent to your doctor and it is recommended that the results be discussed with him/her.