Pharmacologic Stress Echocardiography
What you should know
Pharmacologic stress echocardiography (echo) uses medicine to make your heart work just as it does when you exercise. It is used to check for heart damage, blockage, or problems with the heart walls.
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A pharmacologic stress echocardiography test may cause you to feel dizzy, lightheaded, and weak. You may feel your heart throbbing or have extra heartbeats, chest pain, or a heart attack.
The week before your test:
- Ask your caregiver if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.
- Ask caregivers about directions for eating and drinking.
- Tell your caregiver if you are taking blood pressure or blood vessel medicines. He may ask you to stop taking these for at least 48 hours before your test.
- Tell your caregiver if you are or think that you might be pregnant.
- You may need to have some other tests done before the pharmacologic stress echocardiography. Ask your caregiver for more information about tests that you may need. Write down the date, time, and location of each test.
- Write down the correct date, time, and location of your surgery.
- You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
The day of your test:
- Ask your caregiver before taking any medicine on the day of your procedure. These medicines include insulin, diabetic pills, high blood pressure pills, or heart pills. Bring a list of all the medicines you take, or your pill bottles, with you to the hospital.
- Do not wear tight-fitting clothes on the day of your test. Wear walking shoes in case you need to exercise during the test.
What will happen:
- A caregiver will put a thick gel on your chest. A transducer (wand-like device that receives and sends sound waves) will be placed directly above your heart. Your caregiver will press the transducer firmly as he moves it across your chest. Pictures of the heart at rest will be recorded using an echocardiogram (ultrasound). Electrodes (sticky patches) will be put on your chest then attached to wires to the ECG monitor.
- Medicine will be given slowly and constantly through an IV line placed in your arm. The activity of your heart will be watched during and after the medicine has been given. Your blood pressure, and heart rate and rhythm will also be checked regularly. After the medicine is given you may be asked to hold still or hold your breath while more pictures are taken.
After your test:
If you are staying in the hospital after the test, caregivers will take you to your room. If you plan to go home after the test but need to wait for test results, bring a friend or family member to wait with you. They can support you during and after the test.
Contact a caregiver if
- You cannot make it to your test.
- You have a fever.
- You have questions or concerns about your test or medicines.
Seek Care Immediately if
- You have nausea.
- You have chest pain or discomfort that spreads to your arms, jaw, or back.
- You are sweating more than usual or have sudden trouble breathing.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.