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  Stress Echocardiography

St. James Mercy Hospital

Exercise Stress Echocardiogram Testing

Stress Echo Test patient instructions (printable PDF)

Exercise Stress Echocardiogram Testing Stress Lab Department
St James Mercy Hospital
411 Canisteo Street
Hornell NY, 14843

For scheduling call: (607) 324-2879
For faxing to the scheduling department: (607) 324-8221

What is a Stress Echocardiogram?

A stress echocardiogram is an exercise test that evaluates the heart using both an EKG and an ultrasound machine. The patient undergoing a stress echocardiogram is generally walking on a treadmill while being observed.

Should I take my medications on the day of the test?

Consult with your physician about what medications you should or should not take on the day of the exam. Often times if you’re taking medications such as Beta Blockers; for example atenolol, Coreg, Lopressor, or Inderal your physician may want you hold this medication on the day of the testing. It’s also important to consult your physician if you're a diabetic. He or she may want you to change your dose the day of the testing.

Never stop, hold, or discontinue a medication without first talking with your physician first.

What should I wear on the day of the test?

Please wear or bring comfortable clothes and walking shoes. Please do not bring valuables.

What happens during the test?

  • Your test will take place in the stress lab
  • The stress lab is supervised by a physician

    1. First, a cardiac sonographer will gently rub ten small areas on your chest and place electrodes on these area. Electrodes are small, flat sticky patches that attached to the EKG monitor. The EG monitor charts your heart’s electrical activity during the testing.

    2. Before you start exercising, the sonographer will perform a resting EG, measure your resting heart rate and take your blood pressure.

    3. The sonographer will ask you to lie on your left side on an exam table so he or she can perform a resting echocardiogram. Ann echocardiogram is a graphic outline of the heart’s movement created from ultrasound vibrations echoed from the hearts structures. The sonographer will place a wand, called a transducer; on your chest to view an outline of the hearts movement.

    4. After the resting echocardiogram you will exercise on a treadmill. The lab personnel will ask you to start exercising and will gradually increase the intensity of the exercise. You will be asked to continue exercising until you’re exhausted.

    5. At regular intervals, the lab personnel will ask you how you’re feeling. Please tell them if you feel chest, arm or jaw pain or any discomfort; shortness of breath, dizziness or lightheadedness, any symptoms out of normal for you.

    6. The lab personnel will watch for any changes on the EKG monitor that suggest the test should be stopped.

    7. When you cannot exercise any longer, you will get off the treadmill, quickly return to the exam table and line on your left side so the sonographer can perform another echocardiogram,. You may have an IV placed in your arm to use contrast which allows us to visualize your heart better providing a more accurate test.

How will I feel during the test?

You will be encourage to exercise until you are tired, can’t exercise any further or have met your target heart rate. It is normal for your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate and perspiration to increase. As you stop exercising suddenly, it is normal to feel a little unsteady when getting off the treadmill and onto the exam table for the echocardiogram.

How long does the test take?

The appointment will take about 60 minutes. The actual exercise time is usually between 7 and 12 minutes depending on your abilities to exercise.


St. James Hospital
411 Canisteo Street
Hornell, NY 14843
(607) 324-8000

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