Treadmill Stess Test - Echocardiogram

Explanation of the Test

This test is done to observe the heart's response to increased activity in a controlled situation. Ten small pads (electrodes) will be placed on the chest to monitor your heart (chest hair will be shaved if necessary). A resting echocardiogram (ECHO) will be performed on your heart, which takes about 10-15 minutes. A transducer, a microphone-like device, is placed against your chest. The transducer sends out high frequency sound waves (ultrasound) that bounce off heart structures and are received by the transducer. The sound waves, which cannot be heard, are used to form a picture of your heart as it beats that is then displayed on a TV monitor and recorded on videotape as well as paper to create a permanent record. The only discomfort you may feel is the bulk of the transducer being held against your chest since the sound waves themselves are not felt.

After the resting ECHO is complete, you will begin the exercise portion of the test. This involves walking at a brisk pace on a moving belt while being supervised by trained personnel for about 3-12 minutes. Every three minutes, the treadmill will increase in speed and the incline will get steeper, which will put more demand on your heart and cause it to beat faster. You will not be forced to do more activity than you safely can, although you may feel tired. Your electrocardiogram (ECG) and blood pressure will be measured throughout the test.

After you have completed the last stage of the exercise test, you will lie back on the bed for your exercise ECHO, which this takes about 5-10 minutes. The first ECHO shows how your heart performs at rest while the second ECHO shows how your heart looks during exercise.


  • Do not eat a heavy meal within two hours of the test. A light meal of juice and toast is recommended prior to the test.
  • Bring clothes suitable for walking on a treadmill, including comfortable walking shoes or flat rubber-soled shoes. High heels should not be worn.
  • Do not smoke for three hours prior to the test.
  • Bring a list of your current medications.
  • You should ask your doctor whether you should take your regular medications prior to the test.

General Information

  • The test takes about one hour.
  • Any further questions about the test may be answered by your physician.
  • The results will be sent to your doctor within 24 hours from when the test is performed.
  • If you are unable to keep your appointment or will be late, please call the Heart Station at 773-665-3187 as far in advance as possible.
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