Stress Echo Testing in the Emergency Department
A stress echocardiogram (ultrasound of your heart) is a noninvasive test that involves either exercise (walking on a treadmill) or a special heart stimulating medication called Dobutamine. An echocardiogram is performed before, during and after the heart stimulation.
Can I eat or drink before the test?
You may not eat or drink four hours prior to the test. After the test is completed, you may consume a liquid diet until the results are finalized, unless told otherwise by the technician.
How is a stress echocardiogram performed?
- You'll have blood drawn upon arrival in the Emergency Department and blood drawn again four hours later. A second EKG will be obtained at that time. These tests are important to see if any changes have occurred in your condition.
- Your lab and EKG results will be reviewed by the emergency medicine physician and cardiology nurse to determine if a stress test is appropriate. If the results are inconclusive, you may have blood drawn again nine hours from your original test. If the results are abnormal, admission to the hospital will most likely be recommended.
- You will receive an explanation of the stress test prior to agreeing to the test. A cardiac sonographer will explain the street echo prior to the procedure. Some information about your heart will be collected prior to the procedure, which includes taking multiple EKGs and blood pressures, and a baseline sonogram of the heart muscle.
- The echocardiogram and EKG performed during the test will be reviewed by a cardiologist, who will report the final results to the emergency medicine physician. After the final result is received, you will be given a thorough explanation of the stress echo results. If the test is negative, you will be discharged with close follow-up care with your primary care physician. If the results are abnormal, your physician may admit you to the hospital for further testing.
After your test
After your stress test, you may feel some fatigue or weakness. This is due to the medications you received, or the activity if you had a treadmill test. The medications that are commonly used for stress testing are Dobutamine, Atropine and Definity. Some of these medications may leave you feeling jittery, nauseated or dizzy. These symptoms should not last very long after you have something to eat and rest for a short time. If you experience any chest discomfort, shortness of breath, eye discomfort, pain or visual disturbances please notify your nurse (if still in the hospital) or doctor (if you have left the hospital). If you begin to experience any eye or visions problems that you did not have before your test, contact your primary care physician or ophthalmologist.
If you have more questions about this test or other cardiac or vascular concerns, call (217) 788-3705.