Life can be stressful. Yes, that’s true even here on the placid Central California coast. Stress is one of the risk factors for heart attacks and stroke, as stress often leads to high blood pressure.
But stress is also necessary for seeing how a patient’s heart is really functioning. It gives a picture of the heart at work. That’s why Dr. Stevens offers stress echocardiograms as part of our sports cardiology program at Premier Heart & Vein Care.
In this scary Halloween blog, let’s detail what a stress echocardiogram is and why it’s a valuable tool.
What is a stress echocardiogram?
A stress echocardiogram is a diagnostic test used to show the motion of the heart’s walls and the heart’s pumping capabilities when the body is working. The test is conducted both when the patient is at rest and then during exercise, usually on a treadmill or stationary bicycle. The test uses ultrasound imaging and enables Dr. Stevens to see areas where there is a lack of blood flow. These areas may not show up on other diagnostic heart tests.
What can a stress echocardiogram help diagnose?
This test is used to:
- Determine how well your heart functions under stress
- Evaluate the overall function of your heart and its valves
- Determine the likelihood of the patient having coronary artery disease
- Evaluate the effectiveness of a cardiac treatment plan
As a registered sonographer, Dr. Stevens works with primary care doctors and potentially cardiologists to assess a patient’s heart condition through the detailed images taken during an echocardiogram.
Are there risks with a stress echocardiogram?
Echocardiograms are considered to be very safe because, unlike X-rays, they do not use radiation. The test itself can be a risk if your heart is damaged, but we constantly monitor your heart rate, breathing rate, and other signs. You need to tell us if you are feeling chest pain, arm, or jaw pain, if you are becoming dizzy, feeling lightheaded, or have other unusual symptoms.
Because we are right there with you, it is easy to stop the test and bring your levels back down. This is not a high-risk test, and the results it delivers are well worth the minimal risk involved.
Are you an athlete who has a family history of sudden death at a young age? Consider coming to see Dr. Stevens at Premier Heart & Vein Care for a sport cardiology consultation and possibly a stress echocardiogram. Call us at (805) 540-3333 to schedule your appointment.