An echocardiogram is a test that uses high-pitched waves sent through a probe called a transducer. When these waves bounce – or echo – back, a moving picture appears on a video screen. An echo stress test uses this technology to make comparisons about your heart’s function, both before and after exercise.
What Is an Echo Stress Test?
It is possible that some people with heart conditions can have no symptoms unless they are physically active. An echo stress test helps a doctor fully understand the condition of your heart and how it operates, both under resting conditions and under stress. Like other cardiac stress tests, an echo stress test will determine:
- How your heart responds to activity
- If there are problems with your heart or heart valves
- If there is a part of your heart muscle not getting the blood supply it needs
- If your current heart treatment plan is working
What to Expect During Your Echo Stress Test
Preparing For Your Procedure
Do not eat or drink anything for at least two hours prior to your echo stress test. Check with your physician to determine if any of your medications should be avoided for the days leading up to your scheduled test. Make sure to bring all of your medications, as well as any herbal or dietary supplements and over-the-counter medications, to the test with you. Your physician can give you special instructions for necessary medications.
Avoid caffeine for at least 24 hours prior to your echo stress test. Make sure to wear comfortable clothing and shoes to your test, and avoid using lotion, oil, perfume or powder on your chest beforehand.
During Your Procedure
You will be asked to remove clothing above your waist. Small patches will be placed on your chest, which record your heart rate. A technician uses an ultrasound probe to take pictures while your heart is at rest. The technician will also take the same pictures immediately after reaching your peak exercise level. An exercise physiologist will continue monitoring your heart rate and electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG) for about ten minutes.
If you’re unable to exercise, you’ll be given a similar test using a medicine called dobutamine, which simulates exercise by making your heart beat faster.
After Your Procedure
You will likely feel a bit tired after the test. Most people can return to their normal activities after this test, but your physician may give you other directions based on your medical condition. A cardiologist will review the results of your test and send a full report to your physician.
Ohio State’s Ross Heart Hospital
OSU Heart Center at Bellefontaine
OSU Heart & Vascular Center at Stoneridge (Dublin)
Heart & Vascular Center at OSU Carepoint Gahanna
OSU Heart Center at Marysville
OSU Heart Center at University Hospital East
To schedule your appointment, please call 614-293-ROSS or 888-293-ROSS.