What is an echocardiogram?
An echocardiogram is a special type of ultrasound that creates images of your heart, including all chambers, valves, walls, and the blood vessels that carry blood in and out of the organ.
Ultrasounds use high-frequency sound waves that bounce off of your organs — these “echoes” are converted into images that your physician can study on a video monitor.
Why would I need an echocardiogram?
Echocardiograms provide valuable information about the health and function of your heart. Your physician may order an echocardiogram to evaluate:
- The size and shape of your heart
- The thickness of your heart’s walls
- The pumping strength
- Valve function and size
- Blood movement
- Infections, inflammation, or tumors
ECCA also uses echocardiograms to identify problems such as blood clots, holes in your heart, and problems with the blood vessels that carry blood in and out of your heart.
What happens during an echocardiogram?
Echocardiograms usually take around an hour. While you lie on a treatment table, your provider attaches electrocardiogram electrodes to your chest to monitor your heart rate during the echocardiogram.
Then, they put a clear gel on your chest that helps the transducer slide over your skin smoothly and improves the way sound waves move through your skin.
During the echocardiogram, your provider moves the transducer on your chest. The device sends the sound waves through your skin and collects the echoes, sending them to the computer where it immediately converts them into images and videos and records them for your physician to study.
Your provider might ask you to hold your breath for a moment. Depending on your condition, they might give you medication to increase your heart rate so your physician can evaluate your heart function while it’s under stress.
Echocardiograms are noninvasive and painless. You don’t need to take any time off to recover after your appointment.
What happens if my echocardiogram shows something abnormal?
If your ECCA physician finds any issues with your heart, they may order additional testing and create a treatment plan to restore and protect your health.
Depending on your condition, you may need to take medication, adjust your lifestyle, or have a procedure to repair a structural abnormality.
Your physician explains your condition and your treatment options and answers any questions so you can make an informed choice about your cardiovascular health.
If you need an echocardiogram, call ECCA or make an appointment online today.