Stress echocardiogram combines exercise stress test and echocardiogram

A stress echocardiogram involves walking on a treadmill while your heart is continuously monitored with an electrocardiogram (ECG), so your cardiologist in Plano can assess your heart function both at rest and while exercising.

How do I prepare for my stress echocardiogram?

  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing and comfortable walking shoes.
  • Since your blood pressure will be checked periodically during the test, wear a short-sleeved shirt or blouse.
  • Do not wear boots, jumpsuits, overalls or a dress.
  • Please do not eat or drink anything with caffeine in it for eight hours before your stress test. Items with caffeine include sodas, "caffeine-free" sodas, coffee, decaf coffee, tea, decaf tea, chocolate, Excedrin, and certain cold or diet pills.
  • Do not eat anything four hours prior to the stress test.
  • Please do not smoke or exercise eight hours before testing.
  • You should continue to take all medications unless your cardiologist instructs you to do otherwise.

What should I bring to my stress ECG appointment?

  • Insurance card
  • Referral for echocardiogram, if required by your insurance company
  • Previous echocardiogram, if from outside facility

What will happen during the stress echocardiogram test?

The entire stress echocardiogram test will take approximately 1 ½ hours.

First, resting images of the heart are obtained. You will be asked to remove your shirt or blouse and put on a gown or a sheet to keep you comfortable and maintain privacy. After lying on an examination table, the technician—called a sonographer—will apply a colorless gel to your chest. The transducer will be moved back and forth across your chest to record several views of your heart.

Second, an exercise tolerance test (ETT) or “stress” test is performed. The ETT measures some aspects of your heart’s performance during physical activity. Electrodes will be placed on the chest the same as for an electrocardiogram (ECG). Your blood pressure, heart rate, and ECG will be recorded at rest, usually while you are lying on your back and again when standing.

You will then be asked to perform a “graded” exercise test on a motor-driven treadmill. The exercise protocol that you will follow will be determined by the physician supervising your test  but will begin at a relatively easy level and become progressively more difficult with each subsequent stage. Your blood pressure, heart rate, and ECG will be recorded at frequent intervals during exercise and after exercise.

The physician or technologist may stop the test at any time for medical reasons. You may ask to stop the test at any time because of significant fatigue or discomfort. However, we encourage you to exercise as long as possible so that we may assess your heart under maximum stress.

When maximum stress is reached the treadmill will be slowed then stopped fairly quickly. Once the treadmill is stopped you will be asked to immediately sit and then roll onto your left hip with your left arm under your head. This is what we like to refer to as “Stop Drop & Roll.”

The sonographer will use the transducer to capture the stress echocardiography images for one minute. You may be asked to exhale and hold it for as long as you can during this part of the test. The sonographer will record and store both the rest and the stress images.