Treadmill (exercise) stress echocardiogram
Stress testing is used usually to determine if there is a problem with blood supply to an area of the heart (coronary artery blockage).
This test is more involved and gives more information (location, extent of blockages) than the EKG-only based standard treadmill exercise stress test. It is also more sensitive and specific (fewer false results) than the EKG-only based test, and more specific (fewer false positive results), especially in female patients, than a nuclear stress test.
During this type of test, we visualize the actual heart-muscle response to stress.
Occasionally, this test is ordered for other reasons such as looking for heart rate, arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat), blood pressure or other responses to a higher heart load.
Variable, usually a total of 1 hour. Very little of that time will be spent actually on the treadmill. Most of the test time is spent imaging the heart using ultrasound.
An intravenous catheter may be placed to allow us to better see the heart muscle with our ultrasound machine. A set of "rest" heart images will be taken.
During imaging, you will be laying down on a table. The ultrasound machine is very safe (same machine as those used in imaging pregnant women).
The "exercise" portion will then begin. You will be connected to a special EKG machine and then asked to walk on a treadmill. The speed of the treadmill starts slow, and speeds up every 3 minutes. Very athletic people may end up running; however, the average person will stop during a fast walk.
At the peak of exercise, you will be asked to quickly return to the imaging table, where a second "stress" set of images is taken.
If you are or may be pregnant, you must tell the technician.
Wear comfortable clothes you would exercise in. Sneakers are preferred; however comfortable walking shoes may also be acceptable. Women may be more comfortable wearing an exercise/sports bra or top.
You may have a light meal before the test; however caffeinated drinks (coffee, tea or caffeinated soda) should be avoided.
Yes, unless specifically advised not to do so by your doctor.