Echocardiogram

What is the test?

An echocardiogram is an ultrasound of the heart. An echocardiogram enables a doctor to examine your heart valves, determine the size of your heart, and assess how well it is functioning. The test can estimate how forcefully your heart is pumping blood, and can spot areas of the heart wall that have been injured by a previous heart attack or some other cause.

How do I prepare for the test?

No preparation is necessary.

What happens when the test is performed?

An echocardiogram can be done in a doctor's office or a hospital. You wear a hospital gown and lie on a table. After squirting some clear jelly onto your chest to help the ultrasound sensor slide around easily, a technician or doctor places the sensor (which looks like a microphone) against your skin.

A picture of your heart appears on a video screen. The technician or doctor slides the sensor back and forth on your chest to see different views of your heart. At times the volume from the machine might be turned on, transmitting a whooshing noise. This represents the sound of your heart beating and blood flowing.

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