The emerging role of exercise testing and stress echocardiography in valvular heart disease

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2009 Dec 8;54(24):2251-60. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2009.07.046.


Exercise testing has an established role in the evaluation of patients with valvular heart disease and can aid clinical decision making. Because symptoms may develop slowly and indolently in chronic valve diseases and are often not recognized by patients and their physicians, the symptomatic, blood pressure, and electrocardiographic responses to exercise can help identify patients who would benefit from early valve repair or replacement. In addition, stress echocardiography has emerged as an important component of stress testing in patients with valvular heart disease, with relevant established and potential applications. Stress echocardiography has the advantages of its wide availability, low cost, and versatility for the assessment of disease severity. The versatile applications of stress echocardiography can be tailored to the individual patient with aortic or mitral valve disease, both before and after valve replacement or repair. Hence, exercise-induced changes in valve hemodynamics, ventricular function, and pulmonary artery pressure, together with exercise capacity and symptomatic responses to exercise, provide the clinician with diagnostic and prognostic information that can contribute to subsequent clinical decisions. Nevertheless, there is a lack of convincing evidence that the results of stress echocardiography lead to clinical decisions that result in better outcomes, and therefore large-scale prospective randomized studies focusing on patient outcomes are needed in the future.

MeSH terms

  • Aortic Valve Stenosis / diagnosis
  • Echocardiography, Stress*
  • Exercise Test*
  • Heart Valve Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Mitral Valve Insufficiency / diagnosis
  • Mitral Valve Stenosis / diagnosis