Exercise Stress echo

An Exercise Stress Echocardiogram, often referred to as an Exercise Stress Echo or Stress Echocardiography, is a diagnostic test used to assess the heart's function and blood flow under stress conditions, such as physical exercise. It combines two types of tests: echocardiography (ultrasound imaging of the heart) and an exercise stress test.

During an Exercise Stress Echo, the patient undergoes echocardiography before and immediately after exercising on a treadmill or stationary bike. The echocardiogram images obtained before exercise provide a baseline assessment of the heart's structure and function at rest. Then, the patient exercises, gradually increasing the intensity of the exercise while their heart rate, blood pressure, and ECG are monitored.

As the heart works harder during exercise, it requires more oxygen-rich blood. In individuals with normal heart function, blood flow to the heart increases appropriately during exercise. However, in people with coronary artery disease or other heart conditions, blood flow to certain areas of the heart may be restricted due to blockages or narrowing of the coronary arteries. This reduced blood flow can lead to abnormalities in heart function, which may be detected by echocardiography.

By comparing the echocardiogram images obtained before and after exercise, the healthcare provider can assess changes in heart function, identify areas of reduced blood flow (ischemia), and detect abnormalities such as wall motion abnormalities or changes in heart valve function. These findings can help diagnose coronary artery disease, evaluate the severity of heart valve disorders, assess exercise capacity, and guide treatment decisions.

Exercise Stress Echocardiography is generally safe when performed by trained healthcare professionals. It provides valuable information about heart function and blood flow under stress conditions, helping to diagnose and manage various heart conditions. However, it may not be suitable for everyone, and the decision to undergo the test is based on individual medical history, symptoms, and risk factors.