What is a Stress echocardiogram?
A Stress Echocardiogram is a test that combines both an Echocardiogram and a Stress test.
An Echocardiogram or Cardiac Echo is an ultrasound examination of the heart. This is done by obtaining 2-dimensional and Doppler (blood flow) images with an ultrasound device. Ultrasound waves are sent into the chest using a probe, (lubricated with gel), that is moved over the chest. The sound waves are transformed into pictures, which allow evaluation of the structure, size and function of chambers and valves of the heart.
A Stress Test is a procedure where your heart is “stressed” and you are continuously monitored with an ECG and a blood pressure cuff while being stressed. There are two ways that the “stress” can be accomplished (exercise or pharmacological):
You will walk on the treadmill. The practice nurse will assist you through the entire process.
An Echo is performed prior to commencement of the test and immediately after getting off the treadmill.
Your heart rate, blood pressure, symptoms, fitness, physical endurance and ECG changes will be carefully assessed. The Echo pictures at rest and following exercise (stress) are compared to evaluate how the heart responds to stress or added workload.
You will be asked to sign a form to give consent to do the test.
Pharmacological (Dobutamine infusion)
You will receive an intravenous infusion of a medication that will increase your heart rate (to mimic exercise). The practice nurse will assist you through the entire process.
An Echo is performed at several stages during the infusion.
Your heart rate, blood pressure, symptoms, and ECG changes are carefully assessed. The Echo pictures at rest and after dobutamine are compared to evaluate how the heart responds to stress or added workload. You will be asked to sign a form to give consent to do the test.
Are there any risks to this procedure?
Echocardiography is a safe and painless procedure. The risks of the stress portion of the test are rare but may include chest pain, elevated blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, dizziness and very rarely heart attack. Experienced medical staff are in attendance to manage the rare complications.
Please notify staff if you have any allergies.
Are there any limitations to a Stress echocardiogram?
If a patient is able to achieve the target heart rate and if the echo images are of good technical quality, a Stress Echo is capable of diagnosing important disease in more than 85% of patients with coronary artery disease. Also, it can exclude important disease in more than 90% of cases when the test is absolutely normal.
Why do I need a Stress echocardiogram?
A Stress Echocardiogram can help assess:
Stress and exercise tolerance in patients with known or suspected coronary artery disease
The degree of known valvular disease
The cardiac status of a patient about to undergo surgery
The pulmonary pressures
Cardiac function associated with chemotherapy
How to prepare?
Stop taking your beta-blockers or calcium channel blockers as instructed by your physician.
Wear a shirt that can easily be removed. Women will remove shirt and bra.
Please wear flat comfortable shoes, which will remain firmly on your feet for walking on the treadmill. Do not wear sandals, heels, slippers etc.
If you are taking any medications please bring them with you.
If you are undergoing a Dobutamine stress test, you must arrange for someone to drive you home.
How long is the test?
The procedure will take 1-2 hours.
When will you get your result?
Your doctor will discuss your results with you after your test is complete.
If you have any questions about your test or instructions, please call us on 8837 9141 (or extension 141 from within Westmead Private Hospital).