What is Echocardiogram?

An echocardiogram is a test that displays the graphic outline of your heart using sound waves. With high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound), an echocardiogram will enable the physicians to monitor your heart's functioning. The test will show how well your heart is performing and highlight wherever there is a problem.

By using the results of an echocardiogram, physicians will be able to tell:

  • Any changes in the size of your heart

  • Pumping strength and any problems with the relaxing function

  • Any blot clots in heart chambers

  • Pressure in the heart

  • Problems with the functioning of heart valves

  • Health of the heart muscles

Why is an Echocardiogram performed?

Based on the doctor's evaluation, if any irregularities are found while listening to the patient's heartbeat or from other tests, they might suggest an echocardiogram. The test is used to:

  • Check for any trouble with the valves

  • Determine the overall functioning of the heart

  • Check for any possible heart diseases

  • Monitor the progress of heart valve disease over time

  • See the effectiveness of the medical or surgical treatments

The physicians will suggest the suitable type of echocardiogram based on the information needed. Some of the types of tests include:

  • Transthoracic echocardiogram

  • Transesophageal echocardiogram

  • Stress echocardiogram

  • Fetal echocardiography

  • Three-dimensional echocardiography

What are the risks involved in Echocardiogram?

Echocardiogram tests are generally safe with no risks. Transthoracic and fetal echocardiogram are very safe for children, infants and adults.

As for the transesophageal echocardiogram, you may feel slight discomfort in your throat and be drowsy due to the sedative used for the test. In very rare cases, there can be a risk of the tube scraping the inside of the throat.

During a stress echocardiogram, the minor risk that you may come across is from the medication or exercise used to raise the heart rate. It can momentarily cause irregular heartbeat, but serious complications are rare.

How to prepare for an Echocardiogram?

There aren't any specific preparations for a standard echocardiogram. Generally, you can eat and drink, except for a transesophageal echocardiogram, where the physician will suggest you refrain from eating for several hours before the test.

You will also be unable to drive after a transesophageal echocardiogram due to the sedatives. If you are to undergo a stress echocardiogram, wear clothes and shoes that are comfortable to exercise in.

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