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Stress EchocardiographStress Echocardiography:

Echocardiography uses sound waves to create a picture of the heart. Stress echocardiography (or stress echo) lets doctors assess the pumping function of the chambers of the heart. The test can show if certain areas of the heart muscle are not getting enough oxygen-rich blood.

If your doctor wants you to have a stress echocardiogram, you will have an echocardiogram before and immediately after exercise.

For patients who are too sick to exercise, doctors can give them a drug called dobutamine that has the same effect on the heart that exercise does. This type of stress echocardiography is called a dobutamine stress echo.

How does it work?
Echocardiography uses high-frequency sound waves (also called ultrasound) that can provide a moving picture of your heart. The sound waves are delivered through the body with a device called a transducer. The sound waves bounce off of the heart and return to the transducer as echoes. The echoes are converted into images on a television monitor to produce a one-, two-, or three-dimensional picture of your heart.

What should I expect?
First, you will be instructed to undress from waist up and lie down on your left side. A technician will acquire a resting image with an ultrasound machine. During the acquisition, the technician will put a thick gel on your chest. The gel may feel cold, but it does not harm your skin. After acquisition of the resting study, some electrodes will be placed on your chest to monitor your heart rate during exercise. A blood pressure cuff will be placed on your arm to monitor your blood pressure. You will be asked to exercise on a bicycle or a treadmill. After your heart has reached a certain rate during exercise, you will be asked to lie down on an examination table. Again, the technician will use an ultrasound machine to create post exercise images of your heart.

For patients who cannot exercise on the treadmill, an infusion of dobutamine, given over a period of 12 to 15 minutes, or are a character will be used in lieu of exercise.

Most stress echo tests take about 45 minutes, but a dobutamine stress echo takes longer.


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