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A Stress Echocardiogram is a test done to visualize the heart muscle as it pumps, and the valves in the heart as they open and close after you have been exercising. During the test, sound waves are measured as they bounce off the structures of the heart. This is done by applying a hand-held wand (transducer) to the skin of the chest over the area of the heart. The test is painless​ but is does involve exercising on a treadmill or having a medication injected to increase your heart rate. It takes about 30 - 45 minutes to complete. The test is used to detect abnormal heart valve function and poor pumping function of the heart that may be present after exercise, but not noted at rest.

Preparation:

  • Wear a shirt or blouse that opens down the front.
  • If you are a woman, you will put on a patient gown, opened down the front, for the test.
  • No dietary or medication restrictions

During the test:

  • You will have some sticky pads (electrodes) applied to your chest and connected to the machine
  • You may have an intravenous line (I.V.) inserted into your arm for medication
  • You will be asked to turn onto your left side
  • The technician will apply the transducer, using warmed gel, to the skin over your chest area and perform a scan with you at rest.
  • You will then exercise on a treadmill, or you will be given a medication to increase your heart rate as if you were exercising. As quickly as possible after the exercise part of the test, the technician will assist you onto the table and ask you to turn onto your left side.
  • Warm gel will be applied to the transducer before applying it to the skin over your chest, and another scan will be done before your heart rate can return to normal after the exercise
  • Limit your talking and movement during the scanning portion of the test

After the test:

  • The technician will remove the pads and provide you with a towel or cloth to wipe off the excess gel that remains on your chest area
  • If you have an intravenous line (I.V.), the technician will remove it
  • You may resume your usual activities after the test.