Stress echocardiography is widely used to assess several cardiovascular diseases, including ischemic heart disease, valvular heart disease (VHD), heart failure, congenital heart disease, and pulmonary hypertension. In valvular heart disease with asymptomatic severe or symptomatic non-severe status, stress echocardiography plays a central role in the management. As of 2017, the updated American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association and European Society of Cardiology/European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery VHD guidelines recommended stress testing to (1) confirm symptoms and (2) evaluate the hemodynamic response to exercise. In patients with undetermined VHD severity in the presence of low-flow status, it can also be helpful to determine whether the VHD is severe based on flow-dependent changes in response to stress. The clinical indications of stress echocardiography in VHD have expanded with growing evidence for prognosis and being an early marker for interventions. As a result, demand has increased in major cardiology societies for the standardization of stress echocardiography in VHD. Echocardiographic centers should be aware of the clinical potential of stress echocardiography to ensure its optimal application and performance in VHD. This article reviews the clinical application of stress echocardiography, including dobutamine, semisupine bicycle, treadmill, and leg-positive pressure for VHD patient management, and focuses on the current consensus regarding the use of stress echocardiography in VHD. Stress echocardiography is safe and should be encouraged, especially in heart valve clinics, to understand the complex mechanism in asymptomatic patients.
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The author thanks Robert Zheng, MD, for revising the manuscript.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The author declares that there is no conflict of interest.
All the procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1964 and later versions.
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