Stress Echocardiogram (Stress Echo)

Stress Echocardiogram or Stress Echo is a non-invasive method of detecting heart disease which otherwise may not be apparent without exercise

Some common indications for a stress echo include:

  • Looking into chest pain: If you often have chest pain, a stress echo can help your doctor figure out if it's due to coronary artery disease (CAD) or ischemic heart disease (IHD). These are conditions where the heart's blood supply might be blocked or reduced.

  • Younger women with chest pain: Sometimes, stress echo can be a good test for younger women who experience chest pain. This is because other tests, like the stress ECG, might give incorrect results (either false positives or negatives). Also, a stress echo doesn't involve any radiation exposure like a cardiac CT scan does.

  • Breathing problems during exercise: If you find it hard to breathe when you exercise, a stress echo can help find out why. It allows your doctor to check the pumping strength of your heart and how well it relaxes and fills with blood. It can also measure the pressure in your lung arteries and check if your symptoms are due to a lack of blood supply to your heart.

  • People with complicated heart valve problems: If you have a complex heart valve disease and you're seeing a heart specialist (cardiologist), a stress echo can be used to help manage and assess your condition. This helps your cardiologist understand how your heart is functioning under stress and decide the best treatment for you.

A Stress Echocardiogram, or Stress Echo, is a simple and non-invasive test used to check for heart problems that might only show up when your heart is working hard, like during exercise.

What happens during the test?

The test usually takes about 30 minutes. Before you start any exercise, we'll perform an ECG (an electrical tracing of your heart) and an Echocardiogram (like an ultrasound for your heart) while you're at rest.

After these initial checks, you'll walk or run on a treadmill, just like a normal workout. We'll continuously monitor your heart activity, heart rate, and blood pressure during this exercise.

Once you've reached the target heart rate, we'll move you back to the bed quickly. We'll do another Echocardiogram to get more pictures of your heart. Then, we'll compare these new images with the ones we took before you exercised to see if there are any unusual changes.

What are the risks of the test?

The test is safe, but if you feel chest pain, become very tired, or extremely short of breath, we'll stop the test right away. Rarely (in less than 1% of cases), some people might experience an abnormal heartbeat, fluid build-up in the lungs, chest pain or even a heart attack. Death from this test is extremely rare.

Once the test is over, you can go back to your normal activities. But remember to talk to your doctor about any medication you were told to stop taking for the test. They'll let you know when it's safe to start taking it again.

This test helps your doctor understand how your heart works when it's stressed and gives them important information to help manage your heart health.

(This test will take up to 30 minutes)

To get ready for the test, please make sure to:

  • Avoid heavy meals: Please don't eat a large meal within 2 hours before the test.
  • Dress comfortably: Wear comfy shoes and two-piece clothing for walking on the treadmill.
  • Manage your medication: You might need to stop taking certain heart and blood pressure medications before the test.

Medications to stop 48 hours before the test:

Unless your referring doctor has told you otherwise, please stop taking these medications 48 hours before the test:

  • Beta-blockers (These drugs lower blood pressure, regulate heart rate and improve heart function)
    • Generic names: Atenolol, Bisoprolol, Carvedilol, Ivabradine, Labetolol, Metoprolol, Nebivolol, Oxprenolol, Pindolol, Propanolol & Sotalol
    • Brand names: Anselol, Atehexal, Felodipine, Noten, Tenormin, Bicor, Dilatrend, Kredex, Tambacor, Coralan, Presolol, Trandate, Betaloc, Lopresor, Metohexal, Metolol, Metrol, Minax, Toprol-XL, Nebilate, Corbeton, Barbloc, Visken, Deralin, Inderal, Cardol, Solavert, Sotab, Sotacor & Sotahexal
  • Calcium Channel Blockers (These drugs lower blood pressure and prevent chest pain)
    • Generic names: Diltiazem, Verapamil
    • Brand names: Auscard, Cardizem, Coras, Diltahexal, Dilzem, Vascocardol, Anpec, Cordilox, Isoptin, Vercaps, Verhexal

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please stop the above medications UNLESS your referring doctor has told you otherwise. If you are unsure, you may ask your referring doctor and then let us know. Please ask them and then let us know.

Also Note: Patients are not permitted to bring visitors into the appointment room. This includes family, children, guardians, friends and/or carers. Language interpreters are permitted to accompany the patient to the appointment room.