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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

About

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. 

Need to know

  • What happens 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 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.
  • Afterwards 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 facilities

From complex surgery to straightforward procedures, we provide exceptional care across our network of hospitals, outpatient centres and specialist clinics.

  • London Bridge Hospital Facility

    London Bridge Hospital

    27 Tooley Street

    London

    SE1 2PR

    Appointments and Enquiries 020 7234 2009
    Imaging Appointments 020 7234 2773
    Switchboard 020 7407 3100

  • The Lister Hospital Facility

    The Lister Hospital

    Chelsea Bridge Road

    London

    SW1W 8RH

    Appointments 020 7811 4000
    Enquiries 020 3131 4978

  • Wellington-south-hero-facility-582-582

    The Wellington Hospital

    Wellington Place

    London NW8 9LE

    Appointments 0207 483 5148
    Enquiries 020 3131 7478

  • facility-HSC-flag-hero-582x582

    The Harley Street Clinic

    35 Weymouth Street

    London

    W1G 8BJ

    Appointments 020 7034 8181
    Enquiries 020 3131 7962

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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