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An echocardiogram ("echo") is a test that produces an image of the heart by using harmless high-frequency ultrasound waves.

In this test, ultrasound waves are sent through the body with a hand-held device called a transducer. The sound waves bounce off of the heart and return to the transducer. The transducer then transmits the sound waves (also called echoes) to a computer, which uses the pattern of the waves to create images of your heart.

Your doctor may want you to have an exercise test along with an echocardiogram. This is called an exercise echocardiogram. An exercise echo is sometimes used to view how your heart works under stress. It may help diagnose coronary artery disease (blockage in the blood vessels that supply blood to your heart).

In this test, an echocardiogram is done before, during and immediately after exercise. By comparing the echos your doctor can see if the heart muscle is pumping as it should when you exercise. A decrease in pumping suggests that one or more of the arteries are blocked.

Before your test:

  • Do not eat or drink anything for at least 3 hours before the test.
  • Do not do any type of strenuous physical activity on the day of test. For example, do not shovel snow, lift heavy objects or exercise vigorously.
  • Do not smoke for at least 3 hours before the test.
  • Tell your doctor about all the medications you take. Ask your doctor if you should take your medications before the test.
  • Wear a comfortable two-piece outfit and walking shoes.

Nuclear Stress Test

A nuclear stress test shows how well blood flows through your heart and arteries while you are resting and during physical exertion. In this test, a small amount of a radioactive substance is injected into your body. This substance allows images of the heart to be recorded so your doctor can see:

  • How well the heart is pumping blood
  • If a part of the heart has been damaged
  • If any of the arteries that feed the heart are blocked

Preparing for your test:

  • Do not eat or drink anything for 4 - 6 hours before your test.
  • Do not eat or drink any caffeinated products (like cola, Mountain Dew®, tea, coffee or chocolate) for 12 hours before your test.
  • Report all of the medications you take. Ask if you should stop taking any of your medications, such as blood pressure medication, nitroglycerin and beta blockers can interfere with the test.
  • Do not take over-the-counter medications that contain caffeine before your test. Some medications (diet pills, Anacin®, Excedrin®, Vanquish®) contain caffeine.
  • If you are pregnant or nursing, tell the staff before your test.

For people with diabetes:

  • If you take insulin, ask your doctor what amount you should take the day of your test. If you take diabetes pills, do not take your medication until after the test.

A nuclear stress test usually takes 2 to 3 hours.


This study is useful in detecting the presence and significance of coronary artery disease. The test consists of taking pictures after an isotope injection at rest and pictures after an isotope injection while given the vasodilator, adenosine.

Two days before your test (48 hrs.):

  1. Drink PLENTY of water for good hydration.
  2. No caffeine or decaf products. Decaf is not caffeine free. No coffee, tea, soda, chocolate, Anacin, or Aspirin.
  3. Do not take any of the meds listed here.
  4. No tobacco products.
  5. No Beta Blockers or calcium channel blocker heart medication.
  6. No medications called Persantine, Dipyrodamole or Theophylline within 24 hours of your test.

On the day of your test:

  1. Drink at least 16 oz. of water before coming to the office.
  2. NO food or drinks, other than water, 5 hours before your test.
  3. Wear a short sleeve shirt.
  4. Do not wear any metal objects on the chest area, ie: necklaces, zippers or western shirts with metal snap buttons.
  5. Due to radiation exposure, ONLY the patient is allowed in the back office during the test. Family members and friends may wait in the office lobby.
  6. Bring inhalers as needed for breathing problems.

Please notify us if:

  1. You are pregnant.
  2. Are a severe diabetic.
  3. Have asthma, COPD, CHF, second or third degree heart block, or had a heart attack in the last 5 days.
  4. You have had a barium study within one week of your test.
  5. You are claustrophobic.

Exercise Treadmill Test

This test is also called a stress electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG). It records your heartbeat while you walk on a treadmill. This test helps your doctor evaluate the cause of chest pain. It also measures the strength of your heart after a heart attack or surgery. Don't worry about having to exercise. The test measures your heart, not your athletic ability. It is done in hospitals, test centers, and doctors' offices.

Guidelines to follow prior to your test.

  • Do not eat or drink anything for 4 hours prior to the test.
  • No smoking 12 hours prior to the test.
  • No caffeine 12 hours prior to the test.
  • Don't take Beta-Blocker medication 24 hours before test.
  • Wear loose and comfortable clothing, that is suitable for exercise.

New Mexico Cardiac Care

New Mexico Cardiac Care provides cutting-edge heart care from some of the leading cardiologists in the region along with a team of highly experienced providers and techs. We employ the latest techniques in non-surgical treatment of heart disease. Trust us with your heart.