A stress test is just what it sounds like: It is a test that puts extra stress on your heart to see how it responds to working hard and beating fast. You can make your heart work harder by exercising. You might ride a stationary bicycle or walk or run on a treadmill. This is why it is sometimes called a treadmill test. If you are unable to exercise, you can take a special medicine instead that makes your heart work harder. Heart tests then check how your heart does under stress.
This test creates a moving picture of your heart with sound waves. Echo provides information about:
- The size and shape of the heart
- How well heart chambers and valves are working
- Areas of poor blood flow
- Areas where heart muscle isn't contracting the right way
- Any previous injury to the heart from poor blood flow
This test is done in one of two ways:
Transthoracic echocardiography is a painless, noninvasive procedure. A health care provider places a device (transducer) on the chest that sends sound waves to the heart. The sound waves bounce off the heart to a computer, where they transform into pictures.
Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) connects the transducer to a flexible tube, placed into your mouth and past your throat, into your esophagus. This gets it closer to the heart, making it easier to get clear pictures of the heart and to detect any blood clots that might be developing because of AFib. You are sedated during this procedure so that you remain comfortable.
Your doctor may order a chest X-ray to better see structures in your chest, including your heart and lungs. This can reveal complications of AFib such as fluid buildup and an enlarged heart.
Your doctor may order blood tests to check levels of thyroid hormones or minerals that are essential for health and good functioning of cells and organs.