This test is done at a medical center or health care provider's office.
A resting echocardiogram will be done first. While you lie on your left side with your left arm out, a small device called a transducer is held against your chest. A special gel is used to help the ultrasound waves get to your heart.
Most people will walk on a treadmill (or pedal on an exercise bicycle). About every 3 minutes, you will be asked to walk (or pedal) faster and on an incline (or with more resistance if you are on a bike). It is like being asked to walk fast or jog up a hill.
Most of the time you will need to walk or pedal for 5 to 10 minutes or more. Your doctor will ask you to stop:
- When your heart is beating at the target rate
- When you are too tired to continue
- If you are having chest pain or a change in your blood pressure that worries your doctor
If you are not able to exercise, you will get a medicine such as dobutamine through a vein (intravenous line). This drug will make your heart beat faster and harder, similar to when you exercise.
Your blood pressure and heart rhythm (ECG) will be monitored throughout the procedure.
More echocardiogram images will be taken while your heart rate is increasing, or when it reaches its peak. The images will show whether any parts of the heart muscle do not work as well as your heart rate increases. This is a sign that part of the heart may not be getting enough blood or oxygen because of narrowed or blocked arteries.