What You Can Expect During an Echocardiogram

Posted by: Tampa Cardio

On: June 3, 2015

An echocardiogram is a diagnostic test, that through the use of sound waves, produces images of your heart beating and pumping blood. Echocardiograms are recommended by doctors in a variety of instances, but generally when your doctor suspects problems with your valves or the overall pumping action in your heart. Echocardiograms are also often used to detect birth defects in babies and to monitor the progression of heart disease.

Before the Echocardiogram
Your instructions for prior to your procedure vary greatly depending on the type of echocardiogram that you are having performed:

  • If you are having a stress echocardiogram, a test in which separate images are taken of your heart while at rest and while stimulated, you should refrain from eating for a few hours beforehand. Furthermore, if you are performing an exercise stress test, make sure to wear comfortable clothing and walking shoes.
  • If you are having a transesophageal echocardiogram, a test in which images are taken of your heart through an transducer placed directly down your esophagus, you should refrain from eating for a few hours beforehand. During the procedure you’ll be given sedating medication, so you should arrange in advance for a ride home as you’ll be unable to drive yourself.
  • If you are having a transthoracic echocardiogram, a test in which images are taken of the heart directly through the chest wall, no advance preparations are necessary.

During the Echocardiogram
Echocardiograms, sometimes simply called “echos” for short, are performed in both hospitals and some doctors’ offices. After changing into a gown, you’ll lay down on an examining table and the technician will dim the lights – this helps them to better see the images on their screen. They will also attach electrodes to various locations on your body, which will conduct electrical currents to your heart and monitor and translate the readings.

A few things to remember during your echocardiogram:

  • You may hear a loud whooshing sound throughout the procedure but do not be alarmed, the machine is simply recording your blood as it flows through your heart.
  • Follow all of the technician’s instructions; you may be asked to take deep breaths at certain points or to change positions frequently. The technician is simply taking images of your heart from different angles.
  • While the transducer will have a lubricating jelly on its surface to glide more smoothly and comfortably across your skin, the technician may have to press firmly at times, and this can be uncomfortable.
  • In the case of a transesophageal echocardiogram, your throat you will be numbed and you may even be sedated.

After the Echocardiogram
Following your test and after a short waiting period, your doctor will analyze your results and go over them with you in detail. Depending on any conditions that are present and the severity of them, your doctor may recommend a course of action for treatments. If your physician feels there is something concerning in your test results but finds them inconclusive, they may order further diagnostic testing for you in order to determine the exact nature of your condition.

At Tampa Cardiovascular Associates, we use only the most state of the art equipment and up to date diagnostic methods when addressing the concerns of our patients. If you think that you have a condition that might be best detected through a simple echocardiogram test, schedule an appointment with us today by calling (813) 975-2800.

Posted by: Tampa Cardio

On: 03/06/2015

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