What Is Stress Echo?
A stress echocardiogram is an imaging test that monitors the functioning of the heart by inducing a stress test, a stimulus that facilitates a stressful environment within the heart. Through ultrasound waves, the physician is able to compare images of the heart before and after it was stressed, allowing the identification of any changes or abnormalities that may have been occurring.
A stress echocardiogram specifically monitors the distribution of blood supply into the heart, as well as its viability and ability to perform its functions. The test is usually used to diagnose coronary artery disease. There are two types of stress echocardiography procedure, depending on the stressful stimuli; however, the physician should decide on the more appropriate method for the patient. Each procedure would usually take around 1-2 hours, exclusive of waiting time.
Preparing for Stress Echocardiography
- Eat minimally at least two hours before the test
- Take necessary medications on time
- Wear comfortable clothing
- Allot at least half a day for the procedure
Echocardiography enables evaluation of a cardiac function at rest, during pharmacologic stress, and during or immediately following dynamic exercise. Exercise two-dimensional (2D) imaging is used primarily to detect the presence and extent of coronary artery disease by provoking regional ischemia with resulting wall motion abnormalities. The addition of exercise Doppler permits evaluation of valvular function, pulmonary artery pressure, left ventricular outflow tract gradients, and global ventricular systolic and diastolic function.