Important information to prepare for your test

Please follow these instructions so we do not need to reschedule your test. Do not stop taking any medication without first talking to your doctor.

48 hours before your test

  • Stop taking these medications: Persantine (dipyridamole), Theo-Dur (theophylline) and Aggrenox.

24 hours before your test

  • Do not drink or eat products that contain caffeine (coffee and tea, including decaf; cola; energy drinks; Mountain Dew; products that contain chocolate) and those labeled “decaffeinated” or “caffeine-free” (these still contain small amounts of caffeine).
  • Do not take medications that contain caffeine (Excedrin, Anacin, diet pills, NoDoz, etc.). If you aren’t sure if a medication contains caffeine, read the label or ask your pharmacist or doctor.
  • Stop taking these medications: Isosorbide dinitrate (Dilatrate, Isordil, etc.), isosorbide mononitrate (Imdur, Ismo, etc.), nitroglycerin (Nitrostat, Nitro-Dur, Deponit, Minitran, nitro patch, etc.).

Day of your test

  • Do not smoke.
  • Do not eat or drink anything except water for 4 hours before your test.
  • If you use an inhaler to help you breathe, please bring it to the test.
  • Bring your medications with you on the day of your test.

Why do I need this test?

An exercise stress echo test is used to check:

  • How well your heart works when you are active.
  • How well your heart and heart valves work.
  • Your risk of coronary artery disease.
  • How well your cardiac treatment plan is working.

Should I take my medications the day of the test?

Please see the test preparation information above for information about medications to stop taking before your test. Your doctor may want you to make other changes to your medications. Do not stop taking any medication without first talking to your doctor.

Information for patients with diabetes

If you take insulin to control your blood sugar, ask your doctor how much medication you should take the day of the test. You may need to take half of your usual morning dose and eat a light meal 4 hours before the test. If you take pills to control your blood sugar, do not take your medication until after the test.

Do not take your diabetes medication and skip a meal before the test.

If you own a glucose monitor, bring it with you to check your blood sugar levels before and after your test. If you think your blood sugar is low, let us know right away. Plan to eat and take your diabetes medication after your test.

What should I wear on the day of the test?

Please wear or bring clothes and shoes that are comfortable for walking. Do not bring valuables with you.

How long does the test take?

The appointment takes about 60 minutes. The actual exercise time is usually between 7 and 12 minutes.

What happens during the test?

  • We will apply small, sticky patches called electrodes on several areas of your body. The electrodes are attached to an electrocardiograph (EKG) monitor that records your heart’s electrical activity during the test.
  • Before you start exercising, you will have an EKG, and we will check your resting heart rate and blood pressure.
  • You will have an echocardiogram (echo). This test uses ultrasound to check your heart’s movement.
  • After the echo is done, you will exercise on a treadmill or stationary bike. The intensity of the exercise will gradually increase throughout the test. You will keep exercising until you are exhausted.
  • Please let us know at any time if you have chest, arm or jaw pain or discomfort; or if you are short of breath, dizzy, lightheaded or if you have any other unusual symptoms.
  • We will watch the EKG monitor for any signs that the test should be stopped.
  • When you can not exercise any longer, you will get off the treadmill*, return to the exam table and have another echo.
    *If you were exercising on a bike, the echo may be done while you are still pedaling.

How will I feel during the test?

  • You will be encouraged to exercise until you are exhausted.
  • It is normal to perspire, breathe faster than normal, and for your blood pressure and heart rate to be higher than normal.
  • It is normal to feel a little unsteady when you get off the treadmill.

What happens after the test?

  • After the test, you will walk slowly for a few minutes to cool down. Your heart rate, blood pressure and ECG will be monitored until the levels return to normal.
  • The cardiologist may have you wait while your test results are reviewed. Is so, please let us know right away if you have any unusual symptoms.

How do I get the results of my test?

Your doctor will get your test results and review them with you.

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