Stress Echocardiography, or stress echo, is an exercise test that
helps your doctor see how well your heart pumps when made to beat
harder. Harmless sound waves bounce off your heart. The sound waves
show the structure and movement of your heart before and immediately
after exercise. By comparing the images taken before and after the
exercise, your doctor can see any changes in the way your heart muscle
works when under the stress of exercise.
How Stress Echo Works
During a stress echo, a
transducer (a small device that produces sound waves) is placed on your
chest both before and immediately after you exercise. The sound waves
bounce off your heart and are changed into images on a video screen.
The doctor compares the two images to detect any changes in the way
your heart responds when you exert yourself.
During your Stess Echo
After you arrive, you'll
be asked to undress from the waist up. Women are give a hospital gown
to wear. A technician places a painless transducer at various places on
the left side of your chest. Then pictures of your heart at rest are
recorded on videotape. Your blood pressure is also monitored, and
electrodes are attached to your chest to record an EKG.
Next, you are asked to walk on a treadmill until your heart is
beating rapidly. If you have a medical condition that prevents you from
exercising, your heart may be increased with medication instead of
exercise. This is normally done in a hospital setting.
Finally, a technician records a second set of video images of your
heart immediately after you finish exercising. The doctor can then
display the two sets of images side by side to compare the way your
heart funtions at rest and after exercise.