Stress Echo

Stress Echo

This test combines a standard stress ECG test with a cardiac ultrasound examination (echo) of the left ventricle of the heart before and immediately after walking on a treadmill. We use this test to look for coronary artery disease using a combination of the ECG recorded throughout the test including the recovery period, and the echocardiogram. Combining the echocardiogram with the exercise ECG substantially improves the value of the test. The test takes approximately ½ an hour to perform and requires both a cardiac sonographer and a cardiologist.

Stress ECG test

The critical part of the test is increasing the heart rate adequately by exercise on the treadmill and then quickly getting the ultrasound images as soon as possible. There are 5 views which are used conventionally using a single plane probe, which gets one image at a time, but we now prefer to use a multi plane probe which takes up to 3 pictures simultaneously.

The images are then compared side-by-side using a special software program and the effect of exercise on various regions of the left ventricle and its overall function analysed. We also review the ECG and blood pressure measurements made before, during and after the test.

Positive Stress Echo

This stress echo shows a thinning of the wall between the ventricles resulting from inadequate blood flow at the peak of exercise. The function of the heart was normal at rest.

Download a Patient Information Sheet on Stress Echo here.