Exercise Stress Echocardiogram

What is an Exercise Stress Echo?

An exercise stress echocardiogram (“echo”) is a test that combines an ultrasound study of the heart with a standard treadmill stress test. This test helps the doctor determine how well you heart handles exercise. As your body works harder during the test, it requires more oxygen, so the heart must pump more blood. The test can show if the blood supply is reduced in the arteries that supply the heart. It also helps doctors know the kind and level of exercise appropriate for a patient.

What happens during the test?

You will be asked to remove clothing above the waist, and put on a paper gown or other covering to keep you comfortable.

“Resting” Echocardiogram

You will be asked to lie on an examination table. A technician will move the transducer over the chest, to obtain different views of the heart. You may be asked to breathe slowly or hold your breath, in order to get a better picture. Pictures of your heart are then recorded.

Treadmill Stress Test

An EKG is done prior to the test. Your heart rate, rhythm, and blood pressure are monitored continuously during the test. The test usually ends when sufficient information has been obtained. You will be asked to reach a certain heart rate based upon your age.

“Stress” Echocardiogram

Once the treadmill is stopped another echocardiogram will be obtained. The physician then compares the images (before and after stress test) side by side to see how your heart responds to the stress induced by the exercise.

The Results


The doctor or his staff conducting the test may be able to give some preliminary results before you leave. A complete interpretation may take several days.