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Exercise Stress Echocardiography

What is it?

An Exercise Stress Echocardiogram (ESE) is an investigation that combines an Echocardiogram and an Exercise Treadmill Test.

What is the purpose of the test?

Exercise testing measures the performance and capacity of the heart. In many cases, the test is carried out to assist in making a diagnosis of coronary artery disease. Other uses of the test include evaluating a patient’s capacity to undertake certain physical activities or occupations, assessment of prognosis in patients with heart disease and the effect of treatment on symptoms.

What can I expect?

Testing consists of walking on a treadmill. The speed and gradient of the treadmill is increased every three minutes. The test is stopped if you develop symptoms such as fatigue, breathlessness, tired legs, chest pain or other symptoms or when you reach an appropriate target. Throughout the test your pulse, blood pressure and electrocardiogram will be monitored. If there is any abnormal change in any of these observations, the test will be stopped.

Ultrasound pictures will be taken of your heart both before and immediately after the stress test. If at any time during the test you are feeling unwell in any way, report the symptom immediately.

For patients who are unable to walk on a Treadmill an investigation called a Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram is performed.

What preparation is required before an Exercise Stress Echocardiogram?

Patients will need loose, comfortable clothing and comfortable walking shoes. It is preferable that no food, caffeine, energy drinks, alcohol or nicotine be consumed two (2) hours before the test and any meal on that day should be a light one.

If you are taking Beta Blockers, your Cardiologist may ask you to not take this medication on the day of your test. This will be confirmed prior to your test by the staff of Adelaide Cardiology or your Cardiologist.

Please note: Only patients and Adelaide Cardiology Staff are permitted in the procedure room at any time and supervision of children cannot be provided by Adelaide Cardiology staff.

How long with the Exercise Stress Echocardiogram take to complete?

Approximately 45 minutes.

What are the possible Risks?

Clinical exercise stress testing is usually performed in patients with known or suspected coronary artery disease. While every effort is made to minimise the risks of the procedure, there is a small but definite risk of complications which you should be aware of. Be assured that emergency equipment and trained personnel are available to deal with any complications that may arise.

Serious potential complications include the possibility of a major disturbance of heart rhythm requiring resuscitation, syncope (fainting), the development of heart failure or prolonged angina (heart pain), or the development of a heart attack. The risk of one of these occurring is approximately 2 or 3 in 10,000 tests. There is also a very small risk of death occurring as a result of an exercise test. The chance of this in the average patient is approximately 1 in 10,000 although the risks both of complications and of death may be higher in patients who are already known to have severe coronary disease.

When will my Doctor receive the results of my test?

The results will be sent to your doctor generally on the same day and the Cardiologist performing the test will discuss with you his/her findings.