What is an exercise stress echocardiogram?
By comparing your heart function before and after exercise your cardiologist can determine whether enough blood is getting to your heart muscle, or if narrowing of the arteries is restricting the supply.
For people who are unable to exercise, a drug called dobutamine is used instead. This drug is administered through a vein in your arm.
What’s involved in a exercise stress echocardiogram?
Everything we do is done to give you the best experience possible through your treatment and beyond. Your care team is here to make sure you’re comfortable and confident about your procedure.
Here’s a quick look at what you can expect:
- The test takes about 1 hour to complete.
- We suggest you wear comfortable clothing and shoes that are suitable for exercise.
- At the beginning of the test your heart will be imaged using ultrasound (called echocardiography). The technician will put a thick gel on your chest, which may feel cold but is not harmful. Then, the technician will use a hand-held piece of equipment (called a transducer) to send and receive sound waves from your heart.
- The technician will press firmly as they move the transducer across your chest and abdomen and you will be asked to briefly hold your breath at times during the test.
- If you’re having an exercise stress echocardiogram, you’ll walk on a treadmill and the grade and speed will gradually increase to make it feel like you are walking uphill.
- If you are having the dobutamine stress echo test, you will be in a lying position throughout the examination. As the dose of dobutamine is increased, your heart will pump harder and faster and the technician will take images of your heart with the echo machine throughout.
- After the procedure one of our cardiologists will discuss the results with you.
- An official report will be sent to your referring doctor.
Patient preparation information
What is exercise stress echo
This measures your exercise capacity and monitors your electrocardiogram, heart rate and blood pressure while you exercise on a treadmill (usually – some limited centres have a bicycle). It takes about 30 – 45 minutes to complete. If you are having an Exercise Stress Echo you will have an echo (ultrasound examination of the heart) pre and post exercise. If you cannot walk on a treadmill please advise us prior to the test so that a more appropriate test can be arranged.
- Bring a list of your current medications.
- Wear a 2 piece outfit and comfortable footwear.
- Do not wear talc, body lotion or neck chains.
- Have a light meal only.
- Do not consume caffeine, alcohol or nicotine 2 hours prior to the test.
- You will need to undress to the waist.
- Men may require part of the chest to be shaved.
- Electrodes will be placed onto the chest and an ECG lead connected and worn on a belt around your waist.
- A gown is then worn over this in some circumstances.
- You will be supervised by an experienced Doctor and Cardiac Technician.
- Your blood pressure, pulse rate and electrocardiogram will be monitored continuously.
- The test will be stopped when the Doctor feels it is appropriate.
- You will be monitored for 5 minutes upon completion of the exercise.
- During this time you will receive some feed back about your performance by the supervising Doctor.
- Drinking water and a towel are available.
- You will be asked to remain seated in reception for a further 10 minutes to ensure you are fully recovered prior to leaving the medical centre.
- A full report will be sent to your Doctor after the results have been reviewed by a Cardiologist.
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We attract and retain some of the most experienced doctors in the country, who all have a passion for improving patient outcomes and specialise in the treatment of heart disease.
To give you the best care we can, we have the largest group of privately practicing cardiologists in Australia.