If you're having chest pain or you've had a heart attack in the past, your doctor might want to do stress echocardiography testing on you to see how well your heart is functioning. This is the same thing as a regular stress test, except you have echocardiography testing before and after you exercise. Below is a look at what's involved with echocardiography and the details about your heart that your doctor might learn.
The Echocardiography Procedure Is Painless
This cardiac test is a form of ultrasound testing. It's quick and painless since the test is done by having a transducer passed over your chest. The technician applies gel to your skin and slides the transducer over your chest above your heart. The transducer sends sound waves to your heart that bounce back and create a moving image the doctor can see on a monitor.
This image shows the doctor if you have a blockage near your heart or damage from a previous heart attack. It shows how well your heart works to move blood through your vessels. The doctor can see things like the rhythm of your heart, thickening of tissue, scar tissue, enlargement, and other types of damage to the muscles, vessels, and heart valves.
Stress Echocardiography Shows Results
The pictures produced by echocardiography are called echocardiograms. Your doctor can compare your pre- and post-stress test echocardiograms to see if exercise caused your heart to react abnormally. If so, this could explain why you might have chest pain on exertion. Your doctor can also compare past and future echocardiograms to gauge how well your treatment and cardiac rehabilitation are progressing. The stress echocardiogram can even help the doctor know how much you can push yourself while exercising.
Stress Testing Involves Raising Your Heart Rate
When you do the stress part of the procedure, your doctor will have you ride a stationary bike or walk on a treadmill so you exert yourself enough to get your heart rate elevated. Your vital signs will be monitored throughout so the doctor knows when it's necessary to stop. You can also let the doctor know if you have chest pain or feel short of breath.
Right before you get on the treadmill, you'll have echocardiography testing done. Then as soon as the doctor stops the test, you'll have another echocardiogram so the doctor can compare results. This cardiac test in combination with other tests gives your cardiologist a better understanding of what's going on with your heart so the best treatment can begin. Your doctor might recommend medication, cardiac rehabilitation, lifestyle changes, or in some cases a medical procedure to improve your heart's function so you can stay as active and healthy as possible.
For more insight on echocardiography, contact services like Alpert Zales & Castro Pediatric Cardiology.