For a stress test, you are asked to walk on a treadmill until your heart rate increases over its normal resting rate. A physician monitors your heart's electrical activity (EKG) to learn about your heart's function and the blood supply provided to the heart muscle during exercise. There are several types of stress testing but two are commonly prescribed:
Stress Cardiolite or Adenosine Cardiolite
This stress test has an additional component: a cardiolite, a nuclear tracer, is injected into an IV site prior to and during exercise. The cardiolite makes it easier to scan pictures of the heart during its resting state prior to the stress test and after the test.
For patients who are unable to walk on a treadmill, adenosine (IV medication) is given to dilate the heart vessels (like during exercise) in order to achieve the desired test requirements. A physician monitors the stress portion of the test. In preparation for the test, you should not have caffeine 24 hours prior to the test and nothing to eat or drink after midnight.
Stress ECHO/Dobutamine ECHO
During a stress ECHO, an ultrasound of the heart in its resting state is performed prior to testing, and then an ultrasound of the heart is performed immediately following exercise. A cardiologist is present for the test and reviews the images of the heart function to compare the pre-exercise images to the post-exercise images.
Like the other stress tests, the patient walks on the treadmill to achieve exercise. Patients who are unable to walk are given dobutamine (IV medication). For dobutamine stress ECHOs, do not eat or drink for six hours prior to testing. If you are currently on medications, please take as directed by your physician.