What is a stress echocardiogram?
This is a non-invasive ultrasound scan of the hear which assesses whether the heart is short of blood during exertion (exercise).
Why are you having it?
The aim of the test is to say how well the heart copes under physical stress. If the heart is short of blood because of a blocked blood vessel supplying part of the muscle then when the heart beats more quickly (and needs a greater blood supply) then that part of the heart will be seen not to contract quite as well as the other parts of the heart.
Do you need any special preparation?
No, In general we do not need to make any changes to your drug therapy and you do not need to be fasted before the study, although you should not have had a very heavy meal in the previous 2 or 3 hours.
What does it involve?
A doctor will usually carry out the scan. He will ask you either to exercise on a treadmill and will carry out the ultrasound scan immediately at the end of the treadmill test or if you cannot walk on the treadmill he will lie you down and inject a small amount of fluid into a vein in your hand or arm to make your heart go a little bit more quickly (i.e. to replicate the situation that occurs when you exercise).
Your ECG will be monitored throughout the whole study.
Occasionally a "contrast" study may be needed during the stress echocardiogram using a liquid contrast to obtain clearer pictures of the heart. The contrast is harmless.
After the test:
There will be a period of time when the doctor has to interpret the findings and usually you can find out the result the day after the procedure. We would normally contact you directly but if you are concerned please phone Dr Lipkin's secretary.