Exercise Stress Echo

An Exercise Stress Echocardiogram (ESE) is a non-invasive test that combines a treadmill stress test and an echocardiogram.

Why is an ESE done?

An ESE is used to:

  • Evaluate the function of your heart and valves.
  • Determine how well your heart tolerates activity.
  • Determine the likelihood of having coronary artery disease.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of your cardiac treatment plan.

Can I eat or drink before the test?

You may not eat or drink for four hours prior to the test. Also, make sure not to consume caffeine after midnight.

Should I take my medications?

You may take your prescribed medications the morning of the test with a sip of water. Your doctor may ask you to stop taking some heart medications prior to the test. Be sure to ask your doctor how to adjust your insulin and food intake if you are diabetic. If you have any question about your medications, ask your physician.

What else do I need to know?

  • Do not smoke for at least four hours prior to the test.
  • Do not apply lotions or powder to the chest area.
  • Wear comfortable clothing and walking shoes.

How is an ESE done?

An ESE is performed by a Stress Team composed of a cardiac sonographer, a cardiology nurse and a cardiovascular technician, with final diagnosis given by the interpreting cardiologist.

The test will take place in the Stress Testing Room. Your medical history will be reviewed with the cardiology nurse. The nurse will explain the test in detail and answer any questions, and you will be asked to sign a consent form.

The cardiovascular technician will then attach several EKG electrodes to your chest. In male patients chest hair may be partially shaved to ensure better contact with the skin. The electrodes will be attached to the EKG monitor, and a blood pressure cuff will be placed around your arm. Your blood pressure, heart rate and EKG will be closely monitored during the test.

Next, the cardiology nurse will place an intravenous (IV) line in your arm. The cardiac sonographer will ask you to lie on your left side on the exam table so a resting echocardiogram can be performed. A small amount of special contrast agent called Definity will be administered through your IV line by the cardiology nurse to enhance the images.

After the images are recorded, you will be asked to walk on the treadmill. The speed and incline will be increased gradually every three minutes. You will walk until your age-determined target heart rate is achieved. This may take up to 15 minutes. At peak exercise another dose of Definity will be administered. The treadmill will stop, and you will be instructed to immediately lie down on the exam table so the second echocardiogram can be performed.

Your heart rate, blood pressure and EKG will continue to be monitored after exercise for another 10-15 minutes. You will be able to return to your room or go home right after the test.

How do I get the results?

A specially trained cardiologist will interpret the test and the final report will be sent to your doctor.

If you have more questions about this test or other cardiac or vascular concerns, call 217-605-5112.