Echocardiography (ECHO)

Echocardiography (echo) is a scanning test that uses harmless sound waves (very similar to the scans used to examine babies before birth) that help your doctor see how well your heart muscle and valves are working. It also shows the size of your heart and many other potentially important abnormalities. The images are taken from several angles and a computer changes the sound waves into images that are viewed on a screen.

  • Wear a comfortable, two-piece outfit
  • Do not smoke for at least 2 hours before the test
  • Bring a list of your current medications with you

Procedure:

After you arrive for your echo, you'll be asked to undress from the waist up and lie on a couch, the room will be quite dark. Small pads (electrodes) are placed on your chest to monitor your heartbeat. A doctor or technician moves a device (transducer) coated with cool gel firmly over your chest, there are sometimes tender spots on your chest but any discomfort is not coming from your heart. At times you may be asked to exhale and hold your breath for a few seconds. Air in your lungs can affect the images. Part of the investigation results in unusual noises- these are not the sound of your heart beat and should not cause concern! The procedure normally takes approximately 20 minutes and is completely painless. Unless your own doctor has undertaken the test you will not normally received the results at the time of the investigation but they will be forwarded to your doctor as required.

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