A stress echocardiogram, also known as an “echo,” is a test that records images of your heart before and after exercise. By comparing the images, your doctor can tell whether your heart is getting enough blood to meet its increased demand for oxygen. This type of echocardiogram was created as an alternative to a myocardial perfusion imaging scan, also known as a nuclear stress test.
The stress echo allows cardiologists to:
Before your test
During the test
Your stress echocardiogram will be divided into three parts. First, you will be asked to lie on your left side. A transducer (a small device that produces sound waves) and gel are placed on your chest to record images of your heart. This is the resting echo and is used as a baseline test.
Next, several electrodes will be placed on your chest and you will be outfitted with a blood pressure cuff. Some men may need to have areas of their chest hair trimmed to ensure that the electrodes will stay in place and make good contact. You will be asked to begin walking on a treadmill slowly at first with the speed and incline increasing gradually in order to achieve optimum heart rate. Finally, when your target heart rate is reached, the treadmill will be stopped and a second echo will be performed and images recorded.
After the test