Stress echo is the short form name for stress echocardiogram. A stress echo is done to assess how well the heart works under “stress”, typically triggered by exercise on a treadmill. The procedure seeks to obtain echocardiogram (ECG) recordings and ultrasound images of the heart at baseline and during or immediately after “stress” in a non-invasive manner. Stress Echo is a common test used by doctor to screen for myocardial ischaemia (i.e. reduced blood supply to the heart due to blocked or narrowing of coronary arteries).
What happens during the Stress Echo procedure?
An echo will be performed before you exercise on the treadmill. You will be asked to lie on the bed and turn to your left. The sonographer will apply ultrasound gel and place ultrasound probe on your chest. This enables accurate images of your heart to be taken at rest. You will then be asked to get up and exercise on the treadmill. The treadmill will start slowly and will increase in speed and slope. You will need to exercise for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on your age or fitness level. Tell your doctor if you feel dizzy or weak, or if you have shortness of breath, chest pain or pain on your left side.
As soon as the treadmill is stopped, please get back to the bed and another echo will be performed to take more images of your heart after your exercise when your heart is still beating rather quickly.
Preparing for the Stress Echo
Please wear or bring comfortable clothes and shoes if you are undertaking an exercise stress echo. There is no need to fast, but your stomach should not be too full when undertaking the test. If you take medications, discuss with your doctor whether you should take them on the day of the test.
What are the risks associated with the Stress Echo procedure?
The procedure is non-invasive and generally safe. Complications are rare, but may include heart rhythm disturbance, dizziness or fainting. Potential risks of having a heart attack is rare.
The information provided on this page is for general information only and does not constitute and should not be relied on as medical or health advice.