Definition of Stress echocardiography

Stress echocardiography: A supplement to the routine exercise cardiac stress test. During stress echocardiography, the sound waves of ultrasound are used to produce images of the heart at rest and at the peak of exercise.

In a heart with normal blood supply, all segments of the left ventricle (the major pumping chamber of the heart) exhibit enhanced contractions of the heart muscle during peak exercise. Conversely, in the setting of coronary artery disease (CAD), if a segment of the left ventricle does not receive optimal blood flow during exercise, that segment will demonstrate reduced contractions of heart muscle relative to the rest of the heart on the exercise echocardiogram.

Stress echocardiography is very useful in enhancing the interpretation of the routine exercise cardiac stress test (ECST). It can be used to exclude significant CAD in patients who are suspected of having a "false-positive" ECST, a falsely abnormally result on the screening ECST test.


Last Editorial Review: 6/14/2012

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