Preparing for the test
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing that you can exercise in.
- Wear comfortable walking or running shoes.
- Avoid heavy meals for 4 hours prior to your test.
What to expect during the test
On arrival, resting vital signs and an electrocardiogram (“EKG” or “ECG”) will be obtained. An echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) will then be recorded while you are at rest.
If an exercise stress test is planned, you will then walk slowly on a treadmill. The speed and incline of the treadmill will then be gradually increased. The ECG will continue to monitor your heart during exercise. At peak exercise, the treadmill will be slowed to a stop, and a second echocardiogram will be quickly recorded while you are lying down. Be sure to tell the doctor or technician about any symptoms you are having during exercise.
If a pharmacologic stress test is planned, an intravenous line (IV) will placed in your arm. A medicine called dobutamine will simulate exercise by increasing the rate and contractility of your heart. Once your heart rate is above a certain level, a second echocardiogram will be performed. The medicine is then turned off, and your heart rate will return to normal within a few minutes. In some situations, further images may be recorded after your heart rate has recovered.