Stress echocardiography is a test that uses ultrasound imaging to show how well your heart muscle is working to pump blood to your body. It is mainly used for the following reasons:
- To detect a decrease in blood flow to the heart from narrowing in the coronary arteries
- To assess the heart’s response to stress or exercise
- To assess the heart’s general function and structures
- To determine limits for safe exercise in patients who are entering a cardiac rehabilitation program and/or those who are recovering from a cardiac event, such as a heart attack (myocardial infarction, or MI) or heart surgery
- To evaluate blood pressure levels during exercise
- To evaluate the cardiac status of a patient about to undergo surgery
There may be other reasons for your doctor to recommend an exercise echocardiogram.
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is a narrowing of the small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart. CHD is also called coronary artery disease. Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death in the United States for men and women.
Coronary heart disease is caused by the buildup of plaque in the arteries to your heart. This may also be called hardening of the arteries.
- Fatty material and other substances form a plaque buildup on the walls of your coronary arteries. The coronary arteries bring blood and oxygen to your heart.
- This buildup causes the arteries to get narrow.
- As a result, blood flow to the heart can slow down or stop.
A risk factor for heart disease is something that increases your chance of getting it. You cannot change some risk factors for heart disease, but you can change others.
Certain factors or conditions may interfere with the accuracy of an exercise echocardiogram. These factors include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Smoking or ingesting caffeine within three hours prior to the procedure
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Beta-blocking medications may make it difficult to increase the heart rate during the test