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Dr Mark Kennedy - Private Internal Medicine Specialist

Private Service

Resting Echocardiogram (Echo) and Exercise Stress Echocardiogram

Patient information:
Echocardiography is also known as cardiac ultrasound or echo. This test is performed by a highly experienced, fully qualified and dedicated Cardiac Sonographer, Michael Mooten. Echocardiography is a test that uses high frequency sound waves to generate pictures of your heart. During the test, you generally lie on your back and left side; gel is applied to your skin to increase the conductivity of the ultrasound waves. The cardiac sonographer then moves the small, plastic transducer over your chest. The test is relatively painless and can take from 10 minutes to half an hour. The machine analyses the information and develops images of your heart and these images are seen on a monitor. This is referred to as an echocardiogram.
Echocardiography can help in the diagnosis of many heart problems including coronary artery disease, previous heart attacks, valve disorders, weakened heart muscle, holes between heart chambers and fluid around the heart (pericardial effusion). A bubble echocardiogram can be undertaken to diagnose or exclude a hole in the heart.

If your doctor is looking for evidence of coronary artery disease he may perform a variation of this test which includes:
  • Exercise echocardiography - a technique used to view how your heart works under stress. It compares how your heart works when stressed by exercise compared with when it is at rest. The ultrasound is undertaken before exercise and immediately after you stop exercising. A standard treadmill is used (see Exercise ECG above). 
  • Dobutamine stress echocardiography - if you’re unable to exercise for the above test, you might be given medication to simulate the effects of exercise. During this test, an echocardiogram is initially performed when you’re at rest. Then Dobutamine is given to you via a needle into a vein in your arm.  Its effect is to make your heart work harder and faster just like with exercise. After it has taken effect, the echocardiogram is repeated. The effect of Dobutamine wears off very quickly.

After the test: 

An Exercise Stress Echo or Dobutamine Stress Echo that is clearly negative is reassuring and indicates good cardiac function. 

The Exercise Test results can be used to direct further investigations and possible treatment.

This page was last updated at 2:04PM on October 8, 2019.