Southern California Heart Centers' state of the art facility and highly trained personnel provide excellence in Echocardiography and ensure the most comfortable patient experience.


Echocardiogram, which is also known as cardiac ECHO, ECHO, or cardiac ultrasound, is a sonogram of the heart. Using standard ultrasound techniques, echocardiogram uses sound waves to image the heart. This completely noninvasive procedure allows doctors to assess the function of your heart and its valves.

A stress echocardiogram combines an echocardiogram with an exercise stress test in order to increase sensitivity and specificity. This enhanced testing allows your doctor to evaluate your heart at rest, as well as during and immediately following the stress test. This can help your doctor determine whether you have significant blockages in your coronary arteries, as well as assessing the pumping function of your heart and the condition of your heart valves.

A stress echocardiogram may be ordered to:

  • Determine how well your heart tolerates activity
  • Evaluate the function of your heart and valves
  • Determine your likelihood of having coronary artery disease
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of your cardiac treatment plan


You should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing for any echocardiogram exam and leave all jewelry and valuables at home.

Stress echocardiogram involves strenuous walking on a treadmill for several minutes, so prepare accordingly. Please wear comfortable shoes, such as tennis or jogging shoes, for your safety and comfort.


You will be asked to change into a gown for stress echo. Before the procedure, the technologist will explain the procedure and answer any questions you may have. The technologist then attaches electrodes to your chest and abdomen to monitor the electrical signals of your heart during exercise. A cuff is placed on your arm to monitor your blood pressure during the test.

There are three phases of the stress echocardiogram.

First, measurements are taken of your body at rest. This includes an EKG, blood pressure, and an echocardiogram conducted by the sonographer (see above for the echocardiogram procedure).

After the baseline echocardiogram is completed, you exercise on the treadmill. The treadmill begins slowly and gradually increases in speed and elevation following one of the standard protocols. You continue exercising until you reach your peak exercise tolerance. At regular intervals, the lab personnel will ask how you are feeling. Please tell them if you experience chest pain, arm pain, jaw discomfort; shortness of breath, dizziness, lightheadedness or if you have any other unusual symptoms. The lab personnel will watch for any changes on the EKG monitor and will stop the test if there are any irregularities.

When you reach your peak exercise level, the technologist will stop the treadmill and help you quickly return to the exam bed so the sonographer can perform another echocardiogram while your heart rate is elevated.

A stress echocardiogram exam takes approximately 60 minutes to 90 minutes.


Upon completion of the exam, the cardiologist reviews the stress echocardiogram. He will discuss the results with you and suggest any further tests that may be necessary. The results will be sent to your physician.

Following a stress echocardiogram study, you can eat and resume normal activity.


The Intersocietal Commission for the Accreditation of Echocardiography Laboratories (ICAEL) sets standards for echo labs, cardiologists and technologists to provide high quality care. Once all requirements have been met, the lab will receive ICAEL certification. Southern California Heart Centers has been an ICAEL-accredited echocardiography laboratory for adult echocardiogram and stress echocardiogram since 2003.