An exercise echocardiogram (echo)
combines an exercise stress test with an
echo. An exercise echo helps your doctor
learn more about how your heart works
when it is stressed. As you walk on a
treadmill, we closely monitor your heart
Getting Ready for a Stress Echo
ξ Do not eat or drink for 4 hours. If
you have diabetes, let your doctor
know since you may need special
instructions. You can bring a snack
to eat once you are done with the
ξ If you take heart medicines, let your
doctor know when you schedule the
test. You may be asked to stop
taking some of these medicines
ahead of time.
ξ Wear comfortable clothing and
walking shoes. You will be asked to
undress from the waist up.
ξ Before the test, details of the
procedure and its risks and benefits
will be explained to you. Plan to
sign a consent form. If you have
ANY questions, please ask.
What to Expect During Your Exercise
When you arrive, you will remove your
clothes from the waist up and change into a
hospital gown. Sticky patches (electrodes)
will be placed on your chest to monitor your
First, you will have a brief resting echo.
You will be asked to lie on an exam table.
Gel will be applied to a small microphone-
like device called a transducer. The
technologist sonographer then gently moves
the transducer over the chest to capture
images of the heart. You may notice these
images on a nearby screen. To improve the
quality of the images, you may be asked to
breathe slowly or hold your breath.
Second, you will have an exercise test. You
will be asked to walk on a treadmill. You
start slowly with a slow increase in the
speed and angle or incline of the treadmill.
You will be asked to continue walking as
long as possible. During the exercise test, it
is common to feel your heart beat, breathing
increase, and leg muscles tire. Be sure to let
the staff know if you feel chest or arm pain,
shortness of breath, leg fatigue, or dizziness.
Throughout the test, staff will keep a close
eye on your heart rhythm, blood pressure,
Third, an after-exercise echo is performed.
When you are done on the treadmill, you
will be assisted back onto the exam table.
The technologist sonographer will record a
second set of images.
ξ The echo is safe.
There are no
ξ The exercise test
has a small
amount of risk
because we stress
the heart. It is
rare, but you
rhythms or a
ξ We try to determine
if you have any
blockages in your
ξ We learn about your
exercise ability and
related to the level of
ξ Your doctor is able
to make a diagnosis
and treatment plan.
After the test, the doctors evaluate your
ECG and exercise performance. They also
compare the images from the resting echo to
the after-exercise echo to see how your heart
works under stress. In a healthy heart, all
areas of the heart pump harder during stress.
If an area of the heart does not pump as well
during the stress test, this means there may
be a narrowed or blocked artery preventing
the heart muscle from getting enough blood
to function properly. If this is the case, you
may need to have further tests.
Expect the entire test to take 1 hour.
Your doctor will receive a written report and
talk with you about the final results.
The Spanish version of this Health Facts for
You is #6137s
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
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is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright 11/2017. University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing HF#6137