A doctor might request a stress echo test to help diagnose CAD or coronary artery disease. Here’s your guide to understanding stress echo test results.
Here’s a startling statistic: Heart attacks happen to around 735,000 Americans every year, and 1 in every 4 deaths is caused by heart disease.
These staggering numbers reveal how important it is to stay on top of heart health, especially as we age.
One common test that helps determine heart health in adults with suspected heart disease is called an echocardiogram, or stress echo test.
If you’ve recently had an echocardiogram, you might be eager to learn more about interpreting the results. We’ve put together this quick guide to help you understand the results of your stress echo test. Keep reading!
What Is A Stress Echo Test?
A stress echo test, otherwise known as an echocardiogram, is a noninvasive procedure designed to test whether your blood vessels and heart are getting adequate blood flow and oxygen when stressed.
It’s generally given to patients with suspected coronary heart disease, or CHD (also known as coronary artery disease). It might also be administered prior to surgery or before starting a strenuous exercise program if you’re considered at high risk for heart disease.
It might be used following a heart attack to determine the what level of stress your heart muscles can tolerate.
How Is It Performed?
To perform a stress echocardiogram, your doctor will place small, sticky electrodes on your chest. These electrodes track your heart’s rate and rhythm. Your doctor will also monitor your blood pressure throughout the test.
You’ll raise your heart rate by walking on a treadmill or pedaling a stationary bike for five to 15 minutes. As you exercise, the electrodes on your chest will transmit information to an echocardiograph, which will show how your heart is functioning under stress.
If the echocardiograph shows that any part of the heart is not working as it should, it can be an indication of blocked or narrowed arteries.
Interpreting Your Echocardiogram Results
If your doctor ordered a stress test to look for signs of CHD, your test results will come back as either normal or abnormal. Let’s take a closer look at what these mean.
If your results come back as normal, it means you likely do not have severe coronary artery blockage (70% blockage or greater). However, stress echo tests only reveal severe narrowing of arteries. Heart attacks can happen from less severe blockages.
This is important to keep in mind because, depending on why you received the echocardiogram in the first place and the concerns of your health care provider, your doctor may order additional tests.
Your stress test can also come back with an abnormal result. This result can indicate that you have coronary artery blockage of 70% or greater, which is significant.
Your doctor will likely order additional testing at this point, like an imaging stress test, which gives a more accurate picture of heart health. The doctor that administered the stress test will talk with you and help determine your next steps.
Learn More About Heart Health, Cardiology, and Testing Options
We lead into this article with some staggering stats about heart disease in this country. The good news is, heart disease is preventable, and there are treatments for those that have already been diagnosed — via a stress echo test or other means.
Be proactive! Our blog is a great resource for learning more about heart health, telecardiology, echocardiograms, and more. Check it out today!