What is a Stress Echocardiogram?

An echocardiogram or echo is a test that makes images of the heart with sound waves similar to sonar. The test is harmless and is not painful. A specially trained ultrasound technician performs the test. Sound waves are sent out from a transducer and are bounced off the heart. These sound waves are picked up by the transducer and are then made into pictures of the heart.

The stress or exercise portion usually involves walking on a treadmill at a slight incline until you have to stop. Sometime medications may be used to simulate exercise in patients who cannot walk well. An echocardiogram will be done to obtain images before and then immediately after treadmill exercise.

We measure your blood pressure, heart rate and monitor ECG during the entire study.

Stress Echo Test Results

These pictures of your heart and ECG are reviewed by a Valley Heart cardiologist who can identify any problems with the heart muscle.

The test usually takes approximately one hour to complete. A written report is sent to your doctor. Your doctor may then recommend more tests or suggest therapy based on the results of this stress echo test.


Q: What is the purpose of a stress echo test?
A: To determine if you might have coronary artery disease.

Q: How long does this procedure take?
A: Approximately one hour.

Q: Is having a stress echocardiogram painful?
A: No.

Q: Should I have a stress echo test performed if I am feeling well?
A: Yes. Problems of the heart may exist without symptoms.

Q: Will I be seeing a doctor?
A: Performing the test does not require the presence of a doctor in the room. However, a doctor will be available if necessary.

Q: How will I find out the results?
A: The doctor who ordered the test is responsible for discussing the results of the stress echo with you.

Getting Ready for Your Stress Echo Test

  • Special preparations are necessary.
  • Nothing to eat or drink for 4 hours before the test. You may have water.
  • Wear comfortable clothing such as:
    • Shoes with low heels such as tennis shoes.
    • Loose fitting comfortable top and pants or exercise wear.
  • Bring all your medications with you. Take all your medications as prescribed.

During Your Stress Echo Test

  • Special pads will be placed on your chest.
  • After imaging you will be exercised and then placed on the table again and imaged.