Updated: Dec 14, 2021
Memorial Hospital’s team of ultrasound technologists, respiratory therapists, certified registered nurses, and cardiologists work together to provide stress echocardiography testing for patients. Stress Echocardiography or stress echo, is a test that uses ultrasound imaging to show how well your heart muscle is working to pump blood to your body. This test is most often used to detect a decrease in blood flow to the heart due to narrowing in the coronary arteries. A doctor orders this test if the patient has chest pain that is believed to be related to coronary artery disease or a myocardial infarction or heart attack. The stress echo can also be used to tell how well treatments such as bypass grafting, angioplasty, and anti-anginal or antiarrhythmic medications are working.
During the stress echo, the doctor is able to observe your heart at a resting state and peak rate to compare blood flood to the heart. The healthcare team begins the test by applying electrodes to the chest of the patient to measure the heart’s electrical activity and regularity of heartbeats. The patient’s blood pressure is also manually monitored throughout the test. During the resting state, the patient will be placed on their side while the ultrasound technologist takes images of the heart muscle. Once the resting images are taken, the patient will then be asked to walk on a treadmill to help increase their heart rate. Depending on the patient’s physical condition, the care team may increase the intensity of the exercise. If a patient is unable to physically exert themselves to reach their target heart rate, medications will be used to help simulate exercise to the heart. Once the peak rate has been reached, the patent is then asked to lay on their side once more to take more images of the heart to determine if their heart muscles are getting enough blood and oxygen during exercise. As the person cools down and their heart rate returns to normal, they are continually monitored.
Stress echos are beneficial to the patient, as they are a non-invasive, and a safe painless way to help doctors diagnose abnormalities of the heart. Doctors are able to see how well your heart functions during exertion by studying what happens during the stress test. The information gained from the stress echo allows your doctor to make an accurate diagnosis and develop a treatment plan that is best for you.