Testing facilities available: Cardiac investigations
- Exercise stress echocardiogram
- Exercise stress test (ECG)
What is Exercise Stress Echocardiography?
Echocardiography uses sound waves to generate images of the heart that provide information on how well it works. In some instances it is valuable to assess how well different parts of the heart function with exercise. The most common example is when there is concern that there may be a narrowing in one of the arteries supplying the heart with blood. In this case the heart pump’s strength may be normal at rest, but when the heart is put under stress by exercise, the part of the heart affected by the narrowed artery may weaken its strength of contraction. The detection of this sort of abnormality by exercise stress echocardiography can help to guide your treatment. We may also perform stress echocardiography for the purpose of evaluating how your heart handles a particular drug therapy or how heart valve disease is affecting overall heart function (such as mitral/ aortic valve stenosis/ regurgitation).
What Is Involved In An Exercise Stress Echocardiogram?
A resting echocardiogram will be done first. This is performed with you lying on a bed. A technician will be sitting beside you, and will take pictures of the heart using a handheld probe that is applied to the skin of your chest with a water based gel. Following this you will exercise on a stationary bike (ergometer) until your heart rate reaches a target, which is determined by your gender and age. Your blood pressure and heart’s electrical activity will be monitored throughout this exercise. As soon as your target heart rate is reached you will be asked to return to the bed, where the technician will repeat taking pictures of your heart within a minute of you finishing the test. This part can be a little challenging for both the patient (short of breath) and the sonographer who has to quickly and accurately get the images of the heart while it is beating very fast (at peak heart rate).
Test duration – Total the test duration is approximately 30 minutes.
Why do you use a bike and not a treadmill?
We prefer to use bikes as opposed to treadmills as we find some people (elderly or patients with peripheral vascular disease) cannot either co-ordinate or maintain enough effort to get a satisfactory test result using the treadmill.
Results – Dr Sharpe will supervise the test and then sit down with you and discuss the results. Often this is the test that will determine whether a coronary angiogram or other advanced cardiac testing/ interventions may be required.
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Coastal Heart & Vascular is a multidisciplinary team of specialists who provide
cardiology services and cardiac care.