Amelia Heart & Vascular Center is a respected leader in vascular medicine serving the Northern Virginia area.
A stress echocardiogram is a useful diagnostic tool to determine if there are any blockages (ischemia), and also simultaneously examines how the heart responds to stress. This test allows the provider to see the pumping function and structure of the heart at rest and at stress.
How does the stress echocardiogram work?
You will first lie down on the exam table for the sonographer to take pictures of the heart at rest. This will be performed by lying on the left side and having a probe placed on various parts of your chest. The pictures taken will determine the pumping function and overall structure of the heart.
Then, you will be asked to exercise on a treadmill. The treadmill will start at a slow walking pace and increase in speed and incline every three minutes. This will be performed until the calculated target heart rate is achieved. The provider will take your blood pressure at various times while you exercise, and carefully monitor your EKG throughout the study. Once the heart rate is appropriately elevated, you will move back to the exam table for another set of pictures of your heart.
The provider will be able to compare the pictures of your heart at rest and stress, ensuring that the pumping function and valves are normal in both cases. This test has EKG recording the entire time, so the provider will be able to look for any arrhythmias or signs of blockages while you exercise on the treadmill.