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Phoenix Cardiovascular Institute Stress Echocardiography

Stress Echocardiography

What is Stress Echocardiography?

Stress echocardiography (ultrasound) is a test that uses ultrasound imaging to show how well your heart muscle is working as it pumps blood to your body. It is most often used to detect a decrease in blood flow to the heart from narrowing in the coronary arteries.

A resting echocardiogram will be done first. While you lie on your left side with your left arm out, a small device called a transducer is held against your chest. A special gel is used to help the ultrasound waves get to your heart.

Most people will walk on a treadmill (or pedal on an exercise bicycle). Slowly (about every 3 minutes), you will be asked to walk (or pedal) faster and on an incline. In most cases, you will need to walk or pedal for around 5 to 15 minutes.

If you are not able to exercise, you will receive an injectable medicine, such as dobutamine through a IV. This medicine will make your heartbeat faster and harder, mimicking physical exercise.

More echocardiogram images will be taken while your heart rate is increasing, or when it reaches its peak. The images will show whether any parts of the heart muscle do not work as well when your heart rate increases. This is a sign that part of the heart may not be getting enough blood or oxygen because of narrowed or blocked arteries.

Diagnostic Testing