A resting echocardiogram will be done first. While you lie on your left side with your left arm out, a small device called a transducer is held against your chest. Gel is used to help the ultrasound waves get to your heart.
Most people will walk on a treadmill, it is like being asked to walk fast or jog up a hill.
Your provider will ask you to stop:
- When your heart is beating at the target rate
- When you are too tired to continue
- If you are having chest pain or a change in your blood pressure that worries the provider administering the test
A dobutamine stress echocardiogram (DSE) may be used if you are unable to exercise. Dobutamine is put in a vein and causes the heart to beat faster. It mimics the effects of exercise on the heart.
Your blood pressure and heart rhythm (ECG) will be monitored throughout the procedure.
More echocardiogram images will be taken while your heart rate is increasing, or when it reaches its peak. The images will show whether any parts of the heart muscle do not work as well when your heart rate increases. This is a sign that part of the heart may not be getting enough blood or oxygen because of narrowed or blocked arteries.
Your doctor may order this test if you:
- Have new symptoms of angina or chest pain
- Have angina that is getting worse
- Have recently had a heart attack
- Are going to have surgery or begin an exercise program, if you are at high risk for heart disease
- Have heart valve problems
The results of this stress test can help your physician:
- Determine how well a heart treatment is working and change your treatment, if needed
- Determine how well your heart is pumping
- Diagnose coronary artery disease
- See whether your heart is too large