22 Apr What you need to know about Echocardiogram
An echocardiogram uses sound waves to produce images of your heart. This common test allows your doctor to see your heart beating and pumping blood. Your doctor can use the images from an echocardiogram to identify heart disease. Depending on what information your doctor needs, you may have one of several types of echocardiograms. Each type of echocardiogram involves few, if any, risks.
Why it’s done
Your doctor may suggest an echocardiogram to:
- Check for problems with the valves or chambers of your heart
- Check if heart problems are the cause of symptoms such as shortness of breath or chest pain
- Detect congenital heart defects before birth (fetal echocardiogram)
The type of echocardiogram you have depends on the information your doctor needs.
How you prepare
Food and medications
No special preparations are necessary for a standard transthoracic echocardiogram. You can eat, drink and take medications as you normally would. If you’re having a transesophageal echocardiogram, your doctor will ask you not to eat for several hours beforehand.
If you’re having a transesophageal echocardiogram, you won’t be able to drive afterward because of the medication you’ll likely receive. Be sure to arrange for a ride home.
What you can expect During the procedure
An echocardiogram can be done in the doctor’s office or a hospital.
For a standard transthoracic echocardiogram:
- You’ll undress from the waist up and lie on an examination table or bed.
- The technician will attach sticky patches (electrodes) to your body to help detect and conduct your heart’s electrical currents.
- The technician will also apply a gel to the transducer that improves the conduction of sound waves.
- The technician will move the transducer back and forth over your chest to record images of sound-wave echoes from your heart. You may hear a pulsing “whoosh,” which is the ultrasound recording the blood flowing through your heart.
- You may be asked to breathe in a certain way or to roll onto your left side.
After the procedure
Most people can resume their normal daily activities after an echocardiogram.
If your echocardiogram is normal, no further testing may be needed. If the results are concerning, you may be referred to a doctor trained in heart conditions (cardiologist) for more tests.
At the HeartAid Centre we offer a relaxing ambient environment, where you can get your echocardiogram check up done. For appointments call 0114 504 662.