Stress echocardiography is a test that uses ultrasound imaging to show how well your heart muscle is working to pump blood to your body. It is most often used to detect a decrease in blood flow to the heart from narrowed coronary arteries. The test is well validated and used all over the world. In the UK there has been a large expansion in use over the last 10 years.
How the Test is Performed
This test is done in our Cardiac Room which is set up with appropriate equipment. The test is undertaken by a Consultant Cardiologist with support from a Cardiac Physiologist.
A resting echocardiogram will be done first. While you lie on your left side with your left arm out, a small ultrasound device called a transducer is held against your chest. A special gel is used to help the ultrasound waves get to your heart. After this you will have a 12 lead ECG which remains attached to your chest for the whole test.
Most people will walk on a treadmill (or pedal on an exercise bicycle) slowly and at 3 minute intervals you will be asked to walk faster and on a progressively steeper incline. In most cases, you will need to walk for around 6 to 15 minutes, depending on your level of fitness and your age. Your doctor will ask you to stop:
- When your heart is beating at the target rate
- When you are too tired to continue
- If you are having chest pain or a change in your blood pressure that worries the provider administering the test
- If the ECG demonstrates an abnormality