Giving doctors a detailed picture of your heart, an echocardiogram (echo) is a painless imaging test that reveals the size and shape of your heart and how well your heart’s chambers and valves are working.
This safe and painless test:
- Can be done in a hospital, test center, or doctor’s office.
- Bounces harmless sound waves (ultrasound) off the heart. A transducer (device that looks like a microphone) is used.
- Helps show the size of your heart and the health of the heart’s chambers and valves.
Before Your Echo
- Discuss any questions or concerns you have with your doctor.
- Mention any over-the-counter or prescription medications, herbs, or supplements you’re taking.
- Allow extra time for checking in.
- Wear a two-piece outfit for the test. You may be asked to remove clothing and jewelry from the waist up.
During Your Echo
- Most echo tests take 45-60 minutes.
- Small pads (electrodes) are placed on your chest to monitor your heartbeat.
- A transducer coated with cool gel is moved firmly over your chest. This device creates the sound waves that make images of your heart.
- Air in your lungs may affect the images, so you may be asked to exhale and hold your breath for a few seconds.
- The transducer may also be used to do a Doppler study. This test measures the direction and speed of blood flowing through the heart. During the test, you may hear a “whooshing” sound. This is the sound of blood flowing through the heart.
- The images of your heart are stored on a computer or recorded on video, so your doctor can review them later.
After Your Echo
- Return to normal activity unless your healthcare provider tells you otherwise.
- Be sure to keep follow-up appointments.
Your Test Results
Your doctor will discuss your test results with you during a future visit. The test results help the doctor plan your treatment and any other tests that may be needed.