Stress Echocardiogram

A personal experience of a Stress Echocardiogram

A stress echocardiogram is a test used to view the hearts function before and after exercise.

Being the Heart Research Australia Communications Manager, I am always telling everyone how important it is to look after ourselves and ensure we are heart healthy. In doing so it’s also important to practice what we preach!

As a result, today I went for a stress echocardiogram!

To be honest I was a bit nervous. I knew there would be no major issues but there’s always that niggling voice in the back of your mind saying ‘what if’.

After going through the COVID-19 rigmarole to get into the hospital I finally made my way to the cardiac centre in North Shore Private hospital. Thankfully I had the first appointment of the day so no waiting around for me and after a quick chat with the lovely lady on the desk (through facemasks – always fun….) I went in.

I was told to take all my top clothes off, put a hospital gown on (front side open) and sticky electrodes were put on my chest. I lay down and then an echo (ultrasound) was done of my heart.

Cold gel was added to my chest and the ultrasound wand was moved around my chest. The wand sends sound waves through the chest and into the heart. The gel helps the sound waves travel better, and as the ultrasound waves bounce off the heart they create a picture of the heart structures onto the screen. The echo shows the size and thickness of the heart chambers, how the valves are functioning, whether there are any blood clots or damaged or weak muscle tissue, direction of the blood flow or any issues with the pericardium (fluid filled sac around the heart).

Once the echo was done my blood pressure was taken and I hopped onto the treadmill (thankful to be able to take my mask off!) A treadmill is generally what is used to test your response to exercise. Monitoring your heart rate, blood pressure etc while you are exercising helps measure the performance and capacity of the heart, lung and blood vessels.

The treadmill started slowly, then the speed and incline gradually increased over a few minutes with my blood pressure being taken occasionally throughout and someone monitoring my heart rate as it increased.

After a few minutes on that I hopped off and another Echo was taken immediately, seeing what my heart was doing straight after exercise and as my heart rate came down.

All up there were 3 people in the room with me. One doing the Echo, one monitoring my heart rate and one monitoring my blood pressure. All were lovely!

Once the final echo was done and blood pressure taken, I was able to wipe the gel off, have the electrodes taken off and get dressed again! It was very discrete, painless and simple and I was in there for about 45 minutes.

The report will be sent to my referring doctor but apparently all looked ok and there were no red flags! With all being A-ok I popped my mask back on, paid and headed back home!

To view more investigations and treatment procedures for heart disease, click here.