The Heart and Vascular Clinic Nashville, TN

What Is An Echocardiogram?

An Echocardiogram is a test that creates a live image of the heart by using sound waves (much like an ultrasound). As these sound waves bounce off of the heart, they are picked up by the transducer (the instrument placed on your chest) and transmitted into a readable image. Depending on the machine and area being evaluated, the transmitted image may reveal a two or three dimensional view of the heart.

When Might I Need An Echocardiogram?

Your doctor may recommend an echocardiogram to check for:

  • Heart Murmurs
  • Infection
  • Heart Damage or Defects
  • Heart Disease
  • Abnormalities
  • Hypertension
  • Arrhythmias
  • Blood Clots
  • Blood Flow Problems
  • Signs of Heart Failure or Heart Attack

Echocardiograms also allow your doctor to see the size and condition of the heart chambers, the thickness and elasticity of the heart wall and whether or not the heart is pumping properly and efficiently.

What Should I Expect?

The average echocardiogram typically takes anywhere from a half hour to an hour from start to finish.

When having an echocardiogram performed, you will remove your clothes and jewelry from the waist up. You will then lie down and electrodes will be placed on your upper body to monitor your vitals. Next, you will be covered by a sheet or gown as a sonographer applies gel and moves the transducer around on your chest. The transducer and electrodes will now transfer images of your heart onto a screen, and will record the images on photographic paper and video. During the procedure, you may be asked to change your breathing patterns or shift your body so that the sonographer can obtain higher quality readings. Once sufficient data is gathered, the results will be evaluated by your doctor.

Note: If your doctor is not present at the time of the test, you will probably not be informed of the findings for a few days. So, don’t worry if you don’t hear back right away.

How Should I Prepare For The Test?

Before a resting echocardiogram, you won’t typically have to do anything to prepare.

If you have any questions about this procedure, be sure to jot them down and ask your doctor during your next appointment.

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