Stress Echo EKG Test
A stress echocardiogram with an electrocardiograph test is performed to evaluate how a patient’s heart functions during the stress of physical activity. Cardiac activity may appear normal during tests that are performed while the patient is inactive with abnormalities only becoming evident during stress or active periods. It is not unusual for a cardiac patient to report that no significant symptoms were experienced prior to suffering a major cardiac event. A stress echo EKG test provides an excellent opportunity for the physician to observe the heart muscle, valves and coronary arteries along with their functional electrical activity.
A stress echo EKG test is typically performed when coronary artery disease, arrhythmia or valve dysfunction is suspected. Reduced blood flow, inflammation, latency, enlarged heart or other abnormalities may be detected during the test, as well. In addition, physicians often perform a stress echo EKG test to monitor the progress of patients that have had corrective heart surgery or previous cardiac events.
Prior to the date of the test, you should inquire about taking daily medications. You should refrain from eating or drinking for 2 to 3 hours before the test and wear comfortable clothing and appropriate footwear. A stress echo EKG test is comprised of three parts. Before the test begins, you will lie on a table and electrodes will be placed in specific locations on your chest, arms and legs for the electrocardiogram (EKG) recording. You will wear a blood pressure cuff throughout the procedure, also. When beginning the first echocardiogram a special gel will be applied to your chest to facilitate the transducer while it records images of your heart, valves and arteries.
During the stress portion of the test, you will walk on a treadmill. Every three minutes you will be instructed to increase your speed or incline level and your blood pressure will be recorded. You will continue with this exercise until you reach 85% of your target rate. Of course, the test will be stopped immediately if you experience any dangerous symptoms during the exercise. Your blood pressure will be recorded again.
As soon as the exercise is over, you will go back to the table and lie down. And, another echocardiogram will be performed.
The entire stress echo EKG test will take about two hours. All of the recordings will be compared and reviewed. You will be provided with a brief overview of the results. After further evaluation, Dr. Alonso will discuss the final assessment with you.