What is it? This stress test is designed to provide information about how your heart performs during exercise. It combines the information from an echocardiogram (echo) and a treadmill test. The first step of the test is an echo or ultrasound study of the heart. Ultrasound directs sound waves from a transducer through the skin to the heart and then back to the transducer. The signal is transformed into a moving picture of the heart muscles, valves, and flow of blood through the heart.
What happens during the test? The test is simple and painless. You will be asked to lie on a stretcher while a technologist moves the transducer over various areas of your chest. A gel will be used to improve the quality of the picture. All four valves inside the heart are evaluated for leaks (regurgitation), stiffness (stenosis), or congenital (present from birth) problems. The walls of the heart are evaluated for size, thickness and motion. Electrocardiogram (EKG) leads will then be placed on your chest. Heart tracings will be recorded after your heart rate is increased with exercise. This will be done by having you walk on a treadmill or with pharmacological agents at progressive speeds and inclines. A nurse or exercise physiologist will monitor your heart rhythm and blood pressure throughout the procedure. When your heart rate has reached a predetermined rate, a second echo will be immediately performed. By comparing the echo recorded at rest with the echo recorded after exercise, the doctor can learn much about the function of your heart.
Preparing for the Test:
- You may have something light to eat before your test. However, NO caffeine or tobacco products the day of your test.
- Do not use any powders, lotions or oils on your chest.
- Take all medications at your regularly scheduled time, unless your physician tells you otherwise.
- Bring a list of your current medications.
- Wear loose clothing and comfortable shoes, but please no dresses, skirts or nylons
- Please arrive 15 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment time.
- Plan on your appointment lasting approximately an hour.
- Following your test you should be able to drive. However, if you are not feeling well we will not allow you to leave until you feel better.
- Any family or friends who accompany you will have to remain in the lobby during your test.