An Echocardiogram Stress Test (Stress Echo) is a test that combines an ultrasound study of the heart with a stress test. A stress echo looks at how the heart functions when it is made to work harder. The stress echo is identical to the stress exercise test, except, an echocardiogram is performed before and after you exercise.
The stress echo is especially useful in diagnosing coronary heart disease and the presence of blockages in the coronary arteries (the vessels that supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle).
An Echocardiogram stress test is performed to evaluate the function of your heart, mainly your left ventricle (main pumping chamber) when the heart is under stress. This test can help evaluate the following:
Normally, all areas of the heart muscle pump more vigorously during exercise. If an area of the heart muscle does not pump as it should with exercise, this often indicates that it is not receiving enough blood because of a blocked or narrowed artery. The Stress Echo shows areas of the heart muscle that do not receive an adequate blood supply. However, it does not provide images of the actual coronary arteries.