Stress Tests (Excercise & Stress Echocardiography)

We carry out a variety of Stress related tests.

Exercise or Treadmill Test

What is Stress Echocardiography?

A stress echocardiogram is used to see how well your heart performs during exercise, or when exercise is ‘mimicked’ by drugs. It is generally used to investigate or detect potential problems with the heart blood supply ie narrowed or diseased coronary arteries.

Your doctor may order the test to investigate one of the following

  • Have new symptoms of angina or chest pain
  • Have angina that is getting worse
  • Have recently had a heart attack
  • Are going to have surgery or begin an exercise program, if you are at high risk for heart disease
  • Have heart valve problems

The results of this stress test can help your doctor:

  • Determine how well a heart treatment is working and change your treatment, if needed
  • Determine how well your heart is pumping
  • Diagnose coronary artery disease

How is it carried out?

A baseline transthoracic echocardiogram is carried out initially. Most people will then be asked to walk on a treadmill for around 10 minutes. The treadmill will gradually increase in speed every 3 minutes so that by the end you will be jogging.

You will be asked to stop when one of the following occurs

  • When your heart is beating at the target rate
  • When you are too tired to continue
  • If you are having chest pain or a change in your blood pressure that worries your doctor

If you are unable to exercise on the treadmill you will be given a drug via an intravenous line which will speed up your heart rate and ‘mimic’ the effect of exercise, giving similar information. The whole procedure will take around 60 minutes to complete, including recovery time.

Are there any risks involved?

Stress echocardiography is extremely safe. There is a very small risk of precipitating and abnormal heart rhythm, collapse or heart attack. You will be monitored very carefully before, during and after the procedure.

How do I prepare for the test?

There is no specific preparation required, however you may be asked to stop some of your cardiac medication two days before the test.

What does an abnormal result mean?

An abnormal exercise or stress echo suggests that there is a problem with the blood supply to the heart, or that there is scarring suggestive of a previous heart attack. This will be interpreted by your cardiologist and may lead to one of the following outcomes.

  1. A change in medication
  2. Further invasive investigation with a coronary angiogram and subsequently to percutaneous coronary intervention or bypass surgery

What does a normal test mean?

A normal test means that the blood supply to the heart is normal and that you are unlikely to have significant coronary artery narrowing. This will be interpreted by your cardiologist, and explained to you following the procedure.