Many cardiac symptoms only occur during exercise. Your doctor may recommend an exercise stress echocardiogram to investigate any problems with flow in your coronary arteries and heart muscle function at peak exercise.
An exercise stress echocardiogram is a painless, non-invasive ultrasound imaging test of the heart made by placing a probe on the outside of the left chest before and after exercise. If you can’t exercise, an alternative is a dobutamine stress echocardiogram. An exercise stress echocardiogram allows your doctor to diagnose blockages in your heart arteries that are restricting blood flow to the heart muscle. It also allows your doctor to assess your cardiovascular fitness, ability of your heart muscle to contract, and valvular function during exercise. Exercise stress echocardiograms are an important diagnostic tool for your doctor to use and provides superior accuracy compared to ECG stress testing alone.
ECG dots will be connected to your chest. You will be asked to lie down on your left side on the examination bed with your shirt off and a gown on. The probe with gel on top of it, is placed on your chest. The resting images are acquired. Your will then be asked to walk on the treadmill with the cardiologist present. The treadmill will start slowly and then progressively increase in speed and incline every 3 minutes.
Once your heart rate has increased to a level expected for your age, the cardiologist will stop the test and you will be asked to quickly get back on the examination bed. The after exercise images are then obtained, and you may be asked to hold your breath for short periods during this time. You can then can get dressed and the result will be discussed and sent to your doctor. Your cardiologist will arrange a review to discuss the exercise stress echocardiogram results.