• How should I prepare for a stress echocardiogram

    Wear clothing that allows for imaging of the heart. If the test is being performed with physical stress (e.g. exercise bike) then comfortable clothing and trainers are advised in addition. You will likely be asked to avoid caffeine and some medications (e.g. beta-blockers) for 24-48 hours prior to the test.

  • What is involved?

    For an exercise stress echocardiogram (most commonly using an exercise bike) you will be asked to exercise and at intervals pictures of your heart will be taken.

    If exercise is not possible then pharmacological stress may be used with administration of a drug (usually dobutamine +/- atropine) to stress and increased the heart rate. At intervals , pictures of your heart will be taken.

    The test usually takes approximately 30 minutes including recovery time. If pharmacological stress is used, then you will be observed for an hour after the test to ensure all of the affects of the medication have worn off before you go home.

  • What is measured?

    In addition to heart rate, blood pressure and monitoring of symptoms, echocardiography assesses how the heart muscle works both at rest and at maximal activity.

  • Are there any risks?

    The test is very safe. There is a very small risk (<0.1%) of an adverse reaction to medication if pharmacological stress is administered. This can be managed at the time.

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