san diego heart surgeons
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San Diego
501 Washington St.
Suite 512
San Diego, CA 92103
Phone: 619-297-0014
Fax: 619-297-1014

230 Prospect Place
Suite 250
Coronado, CA 92118
Phone: 619-435-1660
Fax: 619-435-6312

A stress echo is a non-invasive test that combines two tests, an exercise treadmill test (ETT) and an echocardiogram (ECHO) . An echocardiogram is done at rest prior to exercise and again at peak heart rate. The echocardiogram uses sound waves (ultrasound) to provide an image of the heart’s internal structures, size and movement. This image is produced by moving a transducer (a very sensitive wand-like device) over the chest area. Electrodes are placed on the chest to monitor the heart’s rate and rhythm throughout the test. The cardiologist will have the patient walk on the treadmill gradually increasing the speed and incline. The patient will exercise from a few minutes up to fifteen minutes depending upon the patient’s level of ability. The test will be stopped if the patient becomes too tired or has symptoms such as chest pain.

The cardiologist will be looking for changes in the EKG pattern and any symptoms that the patient may experience. At the peak of exercise the treadmill will be stopped and the patient will be instructed to lie down immediately on a bed so that a second echocardiogram can be taken to visualize the heart’s motion with exercise. The test takes from 30-60 minutes.

Why is a Stress Echocardiogram done?
This test will help the doctor to evaluate the patient’s cardiac condition related to:
  • Irregular heart rhythms
  • If there is a decreased supply of blood and oxygen to the heart at rest as well as with exertion
  • Overall level of cardiovascular conditioning
  • How hard the patient’s heart can work before symptoms develop
  • How quickly the heart recovers after exercise
What preparations are needed?
  • Please do not eat a heavy meal before testing
  • No caffeine or smoking at least 2 to 4 hours prior to the test
  • Wear comfortable clothing and walking or jogging shoes
  • Your doctor may ask you to stop taking certain medications