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Stress Echocardiography

Echocardiography uses sound waves to produce an image of the heart and to see how it is functioning. Stress echocardiography (or stress echo) lets doctors see the wall motion of the heart's pumping chambers before and after exercise. 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 the same test as exercise stress testing, except that when your heart rate reaches a certain number you will be asked to step off of the treadmill or stationary bike and lie down. For patients who are too sick to exercise, doctors can give them a drug that has the same effect on the body that exercise does. Some examples of the drugs that may be given are dobutamine or adenosine. You may hear this type of test called a dobutamine stress echo.