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Echocardiogram Testing

What is an Echocardiogram?

An Echocardiogram is a test that takes a picture of your heart's movements using a graph. During the test, a wand that emits ultrasound (or high-frequency sound waves) is placed on your chest. This creates a picture of your heart's chambers and valves and helps evaluate the heart's pumping action.

Who needs an Echocardiogram?

You may need an Echocardiogram if you have a heart problem such as valve disease, disease of the heart muscle, congenital heart disease, or a heart tumor. If you have had a previous heart procedure, it may also help determine whether that procedure was effective or not.

What to expect before the test

There is no special preparation for this test. You may be asked to change into  a dressing gown before the procedure.

What happens during the test?

Your procedure will be performed by a certified Sonographer. They will explain any possible side-effects or complications. The technician will place electrodes on your chest area. The electrodes are attached to an electrocardiograph or ECG. You may be asked to lie on your left side. A hand held wand called a transducer will be placed at different areas around your chest. A small amount of gel will be on the end of the wand that helps create a clearer picture of the heart. There may also be sounds as part of the exam. You may need to change positions depending on the area being examined. You also may be asked to hold your breath. During the test, any major discomfort should not be an issue. Your test may take anywhere from 45 minutes to one hour.

As with any test, follow up with your doctor to go over the Echocardiogram results to determine the next course of action.

Source:, 2009

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