An echocardiogram (echo) is a test that uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the heart. The picture is much more detailed than a plain x-ray image and involves no radiation exposure. During an echo a hand-held transducer placed on your chest provides pictures of the heart’s valves and chambers and helps the sonographer evaluate the anatomy and pumping action of the heart.
Why is an echocardiogram performed?
The test is used to:
- Assess the overall function of your heart
- Determine the presence of many types of heart disease, such as valve disease, myocardial disease, pericardial disease, infective endocarditis, cardiac masses and congenital heart disease
- Follow the progress of valve disease over time
- Record the motion of blood through your heart
- Determine damage to the heart muscle in patients who have had heart attacks
- Detect heart murmurs
- Detect pulmonary hypertension
- Determine the source of a blood clot after a stroke or TIA
Can I eat or drink on the day of the test?
Yes. Eat and drink as you normally would the day of the test
How will I feel during the test?
You will be asked to remove your clothes from the waist up and put on a gown and lie on an examination table on your left side. Electrodes (small, flat sticky patches) will be placed on your chest to monitor the EKG during the test. You may be asked to breathe in a certain way or to roll over onto your back.
You should feel no major discomfort during the test. You may feel coolness on your skin from the gel on the transducer and a slight pressure of the transducer on your chest.
Should I take my medications the day of the test?
Take all of your medications at the usual times, as prescribed by your doctor unless directed otherwise.
How do I get the results of my test?
After a cardiologist has reviewed your test, the results will be sent to your physician.