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Blog: What to Expect During Your Stress Echocardiogram

What to Expect During Your Stress Echocardiogram

We use stress echocardiograms, also known as stress echoes, to check up on how well your heart functions under pressure. Under safe and supervised conditions, you exercise to raise your heart rate and get your blood pumping rapidly, giving your care team important insights into your overall cardiac health. 

At Phoenix Heart, our experienced team of providers offers stress echocardiograms at several locations in the greater Phoenix, Arizona, area. If you’ve been advised to come in for a stress echocardiogram, here’s what you can expect during the testing process.

Gradual cardiac exercise

The test is completely noninvasive. We take your resting baseline by sticking 10 electrode patches to areas on your chest that connect to an electrocardiograph (ECG). We also use an ultrasound to take a resting echocardiogram, using a specialized gel on your skin in combination with a medical transducer. 

A test session typically takes between 45 minutes to an hour. Before you come in for your test, make sure you:

  • Don’t eat or drink for 3-4 hours prior to your test time
  • Avoid nicotine and caffeine on the day of your appointment
  • Check about any medications you take regularly, including beta-blockers and medications for diabetes

Wear comfortable clothes when you come in, and put on good walking or running shoes, just as you would if you were heading to the gym. When you come in for the test, plan to exercise for a short period on a stationary bicycle or treadmill while continuously undergoing medical supervision. 

During the test, you gradually raise your heart rate while we carefully monitor your vital signs to learn more about your cardiac health. We track your blood pressure and your heart rhythm. Once your heartbeat reaches its peak levels, we use an ultrasound to take images of your heart, making sure your blood oxygen levels are consistent and strong.

After you’ve exercised for a short period, usually around 6-10 minutes, we have you stop so we can take another ultrasound image of your heart, this time under stress. As you cool down after your exercise period, we continue to monitor your ECG, heart rate, and blood pressure.

Safe and supervised strain

A stress echocardiogram puts your cardiac system through its paces within safe parameters and with continuous medical supervision and support. We commonly use this test to check on patients who have experienced heart troubles or are healing from a heart procedure. 

A stress echocardiogram might be a good idea for you if you are experiencing:

  • Chest pain due to coronary artery disease or a myocardial infarction
  • Cardiac rehabilitation after a surgical procedure like bypass grafting and angioplasty
  • Recent changes in anti-anginal or antiarrhythmic medications

When you undergo your stress echocardiogram, we keep a careful eye on your vital signs, as well as record your heartbeat, and we’re here to support you through any dizziness or weakness. The most serious potential side effect (heart attack), while rare, requires immediate medical support.

If you’re concerned about your heart function or think you may need an echocardiogram, we at Phoenix Heart are here to support you through every step of the journey. We offer multiple types of echocardiograms, including stress echocardiograms. 

To schedule an initial consultation with one of our team of 14 cardiologists, give us a call today, or use the online booking tool to request an appointment.

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