Treadmill Exercise Stress Echocardiogram
An exercise stress echocardiogram test is a screening tool used to test the effect of exercise on your heart.
How the Test is Performed
This test is performed in our office. A technician will take preliminary images of your heart and heart valves. Then a medical assistant will place 10 flat, sticky patches called electrodes on your chest. These are attached to an ECG monitor that follows the electrical activity of your heart during the test. You will walk on a treadmill. Slowly (usually every three minutes), you will be asked to walk faster and on an incline which will feel like walking fast or jogging up a hill.
While you exercise, the activity of your heart is measured with an electrocardiogram (ECG), and your blood pressure readings are taken as well as your oxygen levels.
The test continues until:
• You reach a target heart rate
• You develop chest pain or a concerning change in your blood pressure
• ECG changes show that your heart muscle is not getting enough oxygen
• You are too tired or have other symptoms, such as leg pain, that keep you from continuing
Immediately after your target heart rate is reached, you will go back to echo table right beside treadmill for post-exercise images. You will be monitored for three to five minutes after exercising, or until your heart rate returns to baseline. The total time of the test is around 45 minutes.
How to Prepare for the Test
You must not eat, smoke, or drink beverages containing caffeine or alcohol for three hours (or more) before the test. Wear comfortable shoes and loose clothing to allow you to exercise.
Ask your health care provider if you should take any of your regular medicines on the day of the test. Some medicines may interfere with test results. Never stop taking any medicine without first talking to your doctor.
Tell your doctor if you are taking Viagra (sildenafil citrate), Cialis (tadalafil), or Levitra (vardenafil) and have taken a dose within the past 24 to 48 hours.
You will usually be asked to avoid caffeine for 24 hours before the test. This includes:
• Tea and coffee
• All sodas, even ones that are labeled caffeine-free
• Certain pain relievers that contain caffeine
Why the Test is Performed
• You are having chest pain (to check for coronary artery disease — narrowing of the arteries that feed the heart muscle)
• Your angina is becoming more severe or is happening more often
• You have had a heart attack
• You have had angioplasty or heart bypass surgery
• You are going to start an exercise program and you have heart disease or certain risk factors, such as diabetes
• To identify heart rhythm changes that may occur during exercise
• To further test for a heart valve problem (such as aortic valve or mitral valve stenosis)
The main difference in this examination is the added echocardiogram images for further heart wall motion evaluation at rest and after exercise. There may be other reasons why your health care provider asks for this test. Please speak with your doctor or ouroffice staff if you have questions or concerns regarding this test.