A stress echo, also called an echocardiography stress test, is a procedure that determines how well your heart and blood vessels are working. During a stress echo test, you’ll exercise on a treadmill while your doctor/nurse monitors your heart rhythm. After you have finished exercising on the treadmill, the doctor will do an ultrasound (“echo”) of your heart.
Your GP has referred you for this test because some ECG abnormalities can only be seen during exercise, or while you are having symptoms. A Cardiologist, or Cardiac Sonographer, trained in Cardiac Ultrasound (“Echo”) can gather important information about your heart from this test.
The nurse may need to shave some small patches on your shoulders or chest. It can sometimes be slightly uncomfortable when the ECG stickers are removed afterwards. The nurse will also check your blood pressure.
During the test, you may feel quite breathless as the test increases in intensity throughout its duration. If you are uncomfortable, tired, or getting chest pains (angina), let the nurse know, and the test will be stopped immediately.
For the “echo” (ultrasound) part of the test, the Doctor will press an ultrasound probe against your left ribs. The pressure will be firm, but not uncomfortable.
The Stress Echo Test is non-invasive
Around 20 minutes. Your whole appointment may take 30 minutes.
The Cardiology Nurse will be with you for the Treadmill part of this test, and the Cardiologist will perform the Echo before and after.
As you will be walking on a treadmill for up to 15 minutes, it is advisable to wear comfortable shoes, and exercise clothing if this is convenient. It is helpful if you do not use body lotion/oil before your Stress Echo Test.
We have a supply of patient gowns, which are also suitable to wear during your Stress Echo test.
The treadmill starts off very slowly. The nurse will be standing with you the entire time, so if you feel that it is going too quickly for you, the nurse will stop the treadmill.
If you experience angina, or any discomfort during the Treadmill test, let your nurse know immediately and the test will be stopped.
Additionally, if the nurse notices any ECG changes during your Treadmill test, the test will be stopped and the Cardiologist will be alerted immediately.
If you have difficulty walking, it is likely that the Cardiologist would perform a different type of Stress Test, which will still provide useful information without the need for you to walk on a treadmill.
The Cardiologist will discuss the results of your test during your appointment
If the Stress Echo Test shows that there is something the matter with your heart, your Cardiologist will discuss this with you, as well as your treatment options. A report will be sent to your GP.