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Cardiac Stress Testing

Obtaining a Clear Picture of Your Heart Health

Kirby Medical Center provides comprehensive and advanced diagnostic imaging services to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of a range of heart conditions. Imaging services are performed under the supervision of experienced radiologists and Cardiologists using the most up-to-date equipment and technology.


This type of ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves to examine the heart and the surrounding soft tissue. Three electrodes are attached to the chest and are then attached to an electrocardiograph (EKG). A device called a transducer is coated with gel and rubbed over the areas that are being examined as it releases sound waves into the chest. The exam is performed by a registered sonographer and lasts about an hour.

Doctors perform echocardiograms to examine:

  • Abnormal enlargement of the heart (cardiomyopathy)
  • Congenital heart defects
  • High blood pressure
  • Damage from a heart attack
  • Damage to the heart membrane (pericardial disease)
  • Heart Valve Structure & Function

You are free to leave once the exam is completed. Results take three to five days to process.

Stress Echocardiogram

Also referred to as a stress echo, this procedure checks for stress-induced arrhythmias or blockages in the arteries of the heart.

During this procedure, we will obtain an ultrasound of the heart at rest. We also obtain EKGs before, continuously during exercise and during your cool down/recovery. You will have a repeat echocardiogram once stress (walking on a treadmill) has been induced.

Nuclear Medicine, Treadmill or Vasodilator Stress Test

This procedure assesses your blood supply to the heart and provides information about how your heart is working. You will be given a small dose of a radioactive isotope called a tracer, injected through a vein. A gamma camera will capture images of your heart. After the images are taken while at rest, another round of images will be taken after you perform physical exercise, like walking on a treadmill. Both scans are then compared.

If you aren’t able to exercise, you’ll receive a drug through an IV that mimics exercise by increasing blood flow to your heart. A nuclear stress test can take two or more hours, depending on the radioactive material and imaging tests used.

This procedure is extremely safe, and the amount of radiation given is comparable to a routine X-ray. Your doctor may refer you to have a nuclear medicine cardiac stress test done if there is a concern about the blood supply to your heart.

Non-Imaging Stress Test

A non-imaging stress test helps your doctor find out how well your heart handles its workload. The test can show if there’s a lack of blood supply going to your heart through your arteries, and it can also help determine the level of physical exercise that’s right for you.

During the test, you’ll be hooked up to an electrocardiography machine, which will record your heartbeat and heart waves. You’ll begin by walking slowly on a treadmill, and the incline and speed of the treadmill will gradually increase.

You doctor will use the results of your test to determine things like:

  • If you have an irregular heartbeat
  • If your heart disease treatments are working
  • If you need other tests to assess your coronary arteries

If you have any questions or would like more information on Kirby Medical Center Diagnostic Imaging, contact your primary care physician or call (217) 762-1826.