Question: What is the role of ultrasound stress testing?
Answer: One of the mainstays of evaluating and managing patients with coronary artery disease is stress testing, which typically uses an electrocardiogram to evaluate for the presence of abnormal heart blood flow and abnormal heart rhythms.
We oftentimes will supplement the stress electrocardiogram test with ultrasound imaging, called a stress echocardiogram. This test is used to increase the sensitivity of our ability to diagnose coronary artery disease. If combine an ultrasound test with the stress test, we are more likely to pick up impaired blood flow to the heart during exercise.
Furthermore, the test adds specificity, if we find an abnormality on the stress electrocardiogram, having ultrasound pictures makes us more confident that the abnormality is real. This test is especially useful for women, and for people who have a preceding diagnosis of coronary artery disease.