Stress Echocardiography

Stress Echocardiography or stress echo or stress test

A Stress Echocardiography (stress echocardiogram) is a diagnostic procedure used to assess the working of the heart muscle under stress. It is also called a stress echo or echocardiography stress test. Either exercise or medicines can trigger this stress. Exercising on a treadmill or using a supine bicycle provides the stress (pressure) needed for this test. If this is not possible, then a drug called dobutamine is given to mimic the effects of exercise on the heart. A stress echo is performed if a patient complains about chest pain. It also helps in the diagnosis of Myocardial infarction or coronary artery disease.

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How is Stress Echocardiography performed? :

The patient will be asked to change to the hospital gown and lie down on his left side on the examination table. Electrodes are then attached to the chest to monitor the heart’s electrical activity via the electrocardiogram (ECG) monitor. Other vital signs such as oxygen level, breathing rate, and blood pressure are also recorded while the patient is resting.

An IV (intravenous) line is inserted into the patient’s arm, and a contrast dye is given if needed. This helps to improve the image quality. Following this, a lubricating gel is applied to the patient’s chest and a transducer a placed over this. It is then moved to capture several resting images of the heart. After this, the patient is asked to either exercise on a treadmill or injected with dobutamine. Once the target heart workload is reached, the activity is stopped, and the patient is asked to lie down.

The technologist monitors the patient continuously and stops the test immediately in case of any problem. Echo images of the heart are captured at different intervals during the exercise. If dobutamine is used, it is administered till the target heart rate is reached. The infusion rate is increased every few minutes, and the vital signs are monitored after each time. These vitals are also monitored for 3 to 6 minutes after the exercise or 10 to 15 minutes after the medicine is stopped. Once the images are captured, the electrodes and IV line are removed.  1

Are there any risks involved in it? :

The risks associated with Stress Echocardiography are chest pain, high blood pressure, nausea, dizziness, and extreme tiredness.

FAQs: Stress Echocardiography

What are preparations required from the patient? 

The patient must not eat, drink or smoke for 2 hours before the test. He is asked to refrain from caffeinated drinks for 6 hours before the test. Jewelry and other objects that interfere with the test must be removed beforehand.

How long does Stress Echocardiography take?

  It generally takes 45 minutes to complete stress echo, but a dobutamine stress echo takes about 1 to 2 hours.

Who performs it?

It is done by a cardiac sonographer or an echo technician.

How much does it cost?

  The cost of a stress echo lies around Rs. 3K to 5K.

When can I go home after the procedure?

The patient is allowed to go home and resume his daily routine immediately after the test.

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