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Dr Vineet Sankhla

MD DM Cardiology (CMC Vellore)


What is Stress Echocardiography?

Stress echocardiography is a non-invasive test that can help to determine if you have heart disease and if so, how serious the problem is. For patients who have already been diagnosed with heart disease, it provides indirect information on the viability and the function of heart muscle. This information is important to the physician in planning further appropriate treatment for you.

There are two major forms of stress that can be used. The first type of stress is the standard treadmill exercise (Exercise Stress Echocardiogram) while the second type of stress involves the use of medication to stress the heart (Dobutamine Stress Echocardiography). Your doctor will decide which type of stress is more appropriate for you.

Preparations Before The Test
You may take a light meal three hours before the test. Depending on your condition, you may or may not be required to stop taking certain medications a day or two prior to the test. Please omit certain medications if instructed by your doctor.

A written consent will be obtained before the test. However if you are below 21 years of age, you will be required to bring your legal guardian to sign the consent.

During the test, we have to monitor your heart rhythm continuously. For the electrodes to be secured to your chest, your chest hair may have to be shaven.

Exercise Stress Echo
You need to wear a pair of jogging shoes to facilitate the walking exercise that you are required to perform.

Dobutamine Stress Echo
No preparation is needed.

How Is The Test Done?

Exercise Stress Echo
You will lie on your side, and a baseline echocardiogram will be performed by using a transducer placed over your chest wall. Next, you will be required to walk on a treadmill machine, which will increase in speed and slope every 3 minutes in order to stress your heart in a graduated manner. When you are unable to continue because of extreme breathlessness, chest pain or when you are instructed by the doctor to stop exercise, you will need to lie down on the couch in the position as before exercise as fast as you can. Another echocardiogram will then be performed immediately post exercise.

Dobutamine Stress Echo
The doctor will insert a hand plug on your hand. You will be given medication (dobutamine) through an infusion pump into your vein. The infusion rate will be increased gradually until your targeted heart rate is reached or when you experience chest pain, breathlessness or when the attending doctor decides to stop. During the test, you may experience fast and strong heartbeats. This is an expected response and you should not be alarmed. The procedure will take about one hour.

Can I Undergo The Test If I Am Not Feeling Well?
No. If you are feeling ill because of fever, runny nose or acute illness, you should not proceed with the test. Please call us immediately to change the appointment.