Exercise Echocardiography Overview
Exercise echocardiography is a healthcare procedure that measures the increase of blood flow (oxygen) to the heart through the body’s main artery compared to the heart at rest. This procedure may also be referred to as an exercise treadmill test, exercise tolerance test, exercise test, or exercise ECG test. The exercise test is a general measure of heart health and its capacity to receive oxygen through increased blood supply during exertion. It also is used to diagnose chest pains and arrhythmias. Exercise echocardiography uses exercise or medications to stimulate the heart while the patient is monitored with electrocardiograms. Exercise echocardiography is useful for assessing the heart condition of those engaged in exercise training programs in addition to those with heart disease, arrhythmias, or chest pain.
Candidates for Exercise Echocardiography
People with a history of heart disease or diabetes and smokers are good candidates for the exercise test. Doctors use exercise tolerance testing for patients who have a moderate risk for coronary artery disease. Major risks include chest pain, headaches, shortness of breath, nausea, and heart palpitation. Heart attacks resulting from the stress test are an abnormal occurrence.
Exercise Echocardiography Procedure
Three hours before the exercise test, the patient avoids smoking and consuming food or beverages that have caffeine or alcohol. Healthcare staff attach ten to twelve electrodes on the patient’s arms, legs, and chest area. A blood pressure cuff is used on one arm. The exercise test begins when baseline readings are taken of the heart at rest. The patient begins to exercise on a treadmill or stationary bike while the cardiac activity is monitored. Healthcare providers can also stimulate the heart by medication if the patient is unable to exercise. The heart rate normally increases proportionally with the increased workload. If the test results are abnormal, the patient may just be out of shape aerobically or suffer from blocked arteries, coronary disease, or heart arrhythmias.