A stress echo assesses your heart under stress (exercise) by combining an ultrasound of your heart with an exercise stress test.
Combining the two diagnostic procedures increases the reliable interpretation of the results, particularly in people with certain pre-existing ECG abnormalities and in women.
Please advise us when booking
- If you are taking any heart or blood pressure medications, as some medications may interfere with your test and prevent accurate diagnosis.
- If you have any physical or medical condition which would impact your ability to walk on a treadmill.
You may be advised to wean or omit certain medications prior to your test. You must discuss this with your referring doctor prior to doing so.
Please bring to your appointment:
- your referral and Medicare, Pension and/or Health Care Cards
- a list of your current medications
In preparation for your test:
- Do not apply any lotions or creams to the chest area.
- Wear comfortable walking / running shoes for the treadmill and a two piece outfit (ie top and shorts or pants) to allow easy access to the chest region for the echocardiogram images to be acquired.
What happens during the procedure
- You will need to remove your clothing from the waist up. Women will be given a gown to wear.
- The procedure begins with the cardiac sonographer taking images of your heart whilst resting. A water soluble gel is used as a contact medium between the probe and your chest wall to improve image quality. You will feel pressure on your chest where the sonographer is imaging.
- Once the resting images have been taken you will be connected to an ECG machine, and a treadmill exercise test will be performed.
- Your heart rate, blood pressure and symptoms will be constantly monitored by a cardiologist present during the stress test.
- The treadmill will increase in speed and slope.
- The test ends when you achieve an appropriate target, or if you develop symptoms such as fatigue, breathlessness, dizziness, tired legs or chest pain.
- If at any time during the stress test you are feeling unwell in any way, report the symptom immediately.
- At the end of the stress test the sonographer will take more images of your heart before your heart rate slows down. Collecting these pictures can be difficult after exercise and you may be asked alter your breathing pattern in order to obtain good quality images.
- The cardiologist will compare the resting images to those taken at maximum exertion.
How long does it take
Approximately 40 minutes.
This test is usually performed on patients with known or suspected coronary artery disease, so there is a risk that potential complications may arise.
- The major potential complication during an exercise stress test is having a heart attack. The risk of this occurring is rare and death has been rarely reported (1 in 10,000).
- Other complications may include significant heart rhythm disturbances, dizziness or prolonged chest pain.
The procedure room is equipped with emergency equipment and experienced staff are in attendance, should an emergency situation arise.
After your examination
You can usually go back to your normal activities including resuming your regular medications if you omitted any for the test.
Your images and report
A report will be sent to your referring doctor. It is very important you return to your doctor to discuss your examination results.
Magnolia Specialist Centre will store an electronic copy of your stress test in our secure database for comparison with any future studies.
This content is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you require any clarification, please contact your clinician for further information.