heart and valves 

Mountain States Cardiology
Tests for Your Heart


Nuclear Stress Test

A stress test is performed to see how well your heart works while being exercised. You will first have resting images taken before your heart is put to work. Then, you may be asked to walk on a treadmill. While you exercise, you are attached to a computer that records what your heart is doing during the exercise. The rate will increase as you can tolerate it. If you experience chest pain or discomfort at all during this time, be sure to let the person conducting your test know. 

If you are unable to walk on a treadmill, a medication will be injected to cause your heart to speed up and work as if it is being exercised. You may feel hot, sweaty or dizzy after the medication is injected. You will be constantly monitored, and a computer will record how your heart works during the test.

After the exercise portion, more images will be taken to see how your blood flows after strenuous activity. From beginning to end, the test usually takes 3 to 4 hours.


Echocardiography, also called an Echo, is a test that takes "moving pictures of the heart" with sound waves.  The test usually does not hurt; however, you may feel pressure when the technologist is pressing on your chest to obtain the images.  X-rays are not used for these pictures.


Your physician may request an X-ray of your chest or abdomen to see if there may be something different causing your chest pain. An X-ray is a photograph taken that shows bones and organs, including your heart. It may be able to tell if your heart is enlarged, or if there is a clot in your lungs that may be causing the chest pain.

Electrocardiograms (EKGs)

An EKG records the electrical activity of your heart. An EKG provides information about your heart’s rate and rhythm. It also diagnoses ischemia, heart attacks and a variety of other heart conditions.

To perform the test, 12 sensing electrodes are placed on the skin of your arms, chest and legs. Wires are then attached to the electrodes and to a monitor. The monitor displays your heart’s electrical activity and records it on paper. A printout is then available for the physician to evaluate.