Stress echocardiogram test

Exercise or dobutamine stress echocardiogram test

These tests are specialised ultrasound scans of the heart, designed to test for significant blockages in your heart arteries

What is a stress echo test?

A stress echocardiogram is a test to find out how well your heart works under stress. It involves raising your heart rate gradually, either with exercise or medication (dobutamine) and taking ultrasound images of it. Your cardiologist can then use these images to check your heart for coronary disease or other heart conditions and problems.

A stress echo and other outpatient cardiac tests are available at HCA UK facilities in London and Manchester. Ask our team for information about your nearest location.

Need to know

  • What happens during a stress echocardiogram?  icon plus

    There are two types of stress echocardiogram: exercise and dobutamine. Both involve placing electrodes on your chest to monitor your heart under conditions of rest and stress.

    • Exercise stress echocardiogram. We'll ask you to lie down so we can take ultrasound images of your heart with a transducer as you rest. We'll then ask you to run or walk on a treadmill to take images of your heart under stress. 
    • Dobutamine stress echocardiogram. We'll ask you to lie down as small sticky sensors (electrodes) are attached to your chest. These allow your operator to monitor your heart rhythm and take ultrasound images of your heart. Your consultant will then inject your arm with dobutamine to increase your heart rate, and a contrast dye to better visualise your heart chambers.

    Both tests take 30 to 60 minutes.

  • How to prepare for your test  icon plus

    For both tests, you may be asked to stop taking any medications that slow your heart rate (such as a beta blocker) up to 48 hours before your appointment.

    • Exercise stress echocardiogram. You should bring clothing you feel comfortable exercising in. We'll provide you with a gown, as you'll be asked to remove clothes from the waist up.
    • Dobutamine stress echocardiogram. A dobutamine stress echocardiogram doesn't require any special preparation beforehand. It's usually recommended for those unable to exercise due to injury or other reasons.
  • After the stress test  icon plus

    Both stress echocardiograms take 30 to 60 minutes. You'll be able to go home straight after. Your GP or cardiologist will most likely ask you to return at a later date to discuss your test results. If they suspect you may have a particular heart condition, they may recommend particular treatments or further tests.

Our cardiac teams

Our cardiac departments are managed by cardiac specialist teams that include, cardiac physiologists, cardiac nurses and respiratory physiotherapists, who help support you during any diagnostics tests.

Your cardiologist will review the reports and will talk you through the results and your next steps.

Our locations

From complex cardiothoracic surgery to tests and diagnostic procedures, we provide exceptional care across our network of hospitals, outpatient centres and specialist clinics in London and Manchester.

Request a cardiac appointment

If heart symptoms are affecting your quality of life, we’re here to help. Our heart team is available to book an appointment with a cardiac specialist.

Call us today

020 7616 4988
This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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