What Is a Stress Echocardiogram?

Read Transcript

This season I've been focusing on life saving tests that every woman needs, but many of you put off or ignore all together. Today we're talking about the heart, and a test I recommend strongly as a cardiac surgeon, it's called a Stress Echocardiogram and it looks for problems with you heart.

Noreen here is doing the first part of test, how's that feeling for you? It's great not bad yet. Not bad yet? No. OK, keep accelerating I think, so what happens is, we're trying to check and see if the heart has any blockages in it. Any of the arteries are blocked off and one of the things we want to do for that is to figure out when we stress it how it does.

Now why are we so concerned about that? One of the reasons that a heart disease is the number one killer of women is you don't know if you have the problem, and so this will actually reveal those problems better than all of the other tests we have in general as a baseline, first that will test now, who is recommended to get it? If you're over at the age of 50.

Can I ask you, are you? Yes. She is, all right. She whispered in my ear. Yes, if you have symptoms things that make us worried that you might have a heart disease. Like you're short of breath, you're having chest pains, sometimes palpitations or irregular heart beat, especially when you're exercise it can tip us off that you got a problem or if you have risk factors, right? If you got all things we keep talking about the truth tube, got diabetes, if you have high colestrol, especially the lousy kind or if you got high blood pressure those are things that makes us concerned about someone having a heart disease.

Do you fit in any of that profile? Overweight, palpitations, over 50, a woman. Your a woman. Yes. And yet you're trying your breath now. Yeah. Now you exercise yourself? Yes. Your heart rate is good enough. Now the second part of the study is take you off the treadmill which is what we normally use for men, you've got EKG leads.

This little electrical leads and they are there for a reason they help us monitor your heart rate and your rhythm while you're on this, so we know if you're in danger from that. And then guys, that's enough a lot of times but in women, we need more. Is often the case. This case in this case as well.

So just stop this, and I'll walk you over here. We're going to move to Phase 2. So we did the stress test part, the exercise, let me help you over here. OK. And I'm going to ask a colleague of mine, Dr. Ben Lewis, who's taught me a lot about this test to come and join us. Dr. Lewis, please join us.

Dr. Lewis is on the faculty of New York Presbyterian with me, and years ago, Dr. Lewis taught me that if I was going to screen women for heart disease the best test, again at a first step, would be this echo-cardiography because it doesn't it have any radiation, and what are the reasons you recommended it over just the routine stress tests that most guys get? Well the EKG is less accurate, and with the echo we get a visual of the heart which tells us how the heart performs under exercise stress, and reduces breast artifact on the images.

And ideally of course, when we say breast artifact that means the breasts are in the way, and so some of the tests we do actually take pictures of the heart and the breast becomes a problem for that, but this device, and Ben is an expert in this area and show us, you can actually slip them in a certain spots around the breast, I hope we can all see that reasonably well.

And you had these by the way we sort of mock this up this is what Naureen's test actually looks like when Dr. Louis did in the office a few days ago and you see the heart muscles here. Dr. Louis what did you find? The exercise echo was normal. The muscle was contracting vigorously and symmetrically.

And the symmetry is a big of this because you don't have parts of the heart that are being starved of blood and since they're not being starved of blood they'll due to contract normally, and I guess pretty easy to have a test? Yes it wasn't too bad. And as you put something out, one of the reasons we stress you is really rub the engine of the heart to see what is able to deliver and Dr.

Louis then looks for the area of the heart, that are showing weakness so all makes sense, it's a good test, no radiation, you can slip this easy probing around the breast, you feel revealed at all? Yes, everything is good. I'm telling you right now if you have these are the things I was talking about earlier, risk factors for heart disease included or any symptoms you're talking about, it's a simple test and unfortunately often times it's not the test that gets offered to you.

So be smart you got to take charge of your health, and we're all about these, making this changes happen, making the conversation happen between you and your doctor in a more honest way.