Diagnostic Testing
Stress Echo Test (echocardiogram)

Stress Echo Test (echocardiogram)

Cardiac Testing

What is the test?

This is a diagnostic test that incorporates exercise on a treadmill and the collection of pictures (from sound waves) of your heart before and after exercise.  This provides your cardiologist with information about the size, shape, and efficiency of your heart muscle.

How do I prepare?

Avoid both caffeine and smoking for 48 hours before the test, and don't eat or drink anything for four hours before the test. Wear comfortable loose-fitting pants, top, and sneakers or walking shoes. Bring all of your medications, in their prescription bottles, to the medical center on the morning of the test. If you are taking regular medications, call your doctor ahead of time to find out if there are any special instructions you should follow regarding your medicine. Plan to be at the medical center for about two hours, including outpatient registration, equipment setup, and completion of the stress echo.

What can I expect during the test?

You will be asked to remove your clothing from the waist up and you will be given a gown to wear during the test. A cardiac technician will attach several electrodes to your chest with adhesive, and an EKG will be obtained. Then a resting echocardiogram will be taken. You will be asked to lie on a bed on your back. Clear gel will be put on a transducer, which is a hand-held instrument that emits and receives high-frequency sound waves. The transducer will placed on two specific locations on your chest, and images of your heart muscle and valves will be displayed on a monitor. These images will also be recorded and stored in a computer. You will then be asked to either walk on a treadmill or ride a stationary bicycle, following protocols designed to make your heart work hard. While you exercise, your heart rate will be constantly monitored and the information stored. At the completion of your exercise, a second echocardiogram will be taken and the images will be compared to those taken prior to the exercise.

If you are unable to exercise, a drug (Dobutamine) will be slowly introduced into your bloodstream through an intravenous line in your arm. It will make your heart beat stronger and faster, causing it to work as if you were exercising.

How and when will I get my test results?

The cardiologist will discuss the results with you immediately following the test and will also share them with your primary care physician.

After the test?

You may resume your normal activities, though you might feel tired after this test, depending on your medical condition and your tolerance for vigorous exercise.

Where is the test performed?

Stress echocardiograms are performed in the Cardiac Stress Testing Lab at Cayuga Medical Center, 101 Dates Drive, off NYS Route 96, in Ithaca.


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