What is an echocardiogram?

An echocardiogram is also known as an ultrasound of the heart and nearby blood vessels.

A small probe is used to send out high-frequency sound waves that create echoes when they bounce off different parts of the body. It’s the same technology used during pregnancy to see a growing foetus. There is no radiation involved.

 

Why should I have an echocardiogram?

An echocardiogram is a simple procedure that can provide a lot of information about your heart.

The scan can show many things, including

  • The size of the heart and how well it is pumping
  • If the muscle of the heart is thickened
  • How your valves are working
  • If there are any clots in your heart
  • Whether there is fluid around your heart
  • If you have any heart defects that you may have been born with.

 

How do I prepare for an Echocardiogram?

There is no preparation necessary for an echocardiogram.

If you have the results of a previous echocardiogram, please bring it with you.

 

What happens during an echocardiogram?

You will be asked to remove all clothing covering your upper half before lying down on your left-hand side on a bed. Gowns are available.

When you’re lying down, several small sticky sensors called electrodes will be attached to your chest to record your ECG.

Ultrasound gel will be applied to your chest or directly to the ultrasound probe, and you may feel the pressure of the probe as it moves over your chest.

During the scan you may hear a swishing noise during the scan. This is normal and is just the sound of the blood flow through your heart being picked up by the probe.

The whole procedure will usually take between 15 and 60 minutes. Once the echocardiogram is completed it is reviewed by a cardiologist and the results will be sent to your doctor.