Having an Echocardiogram? Learn What You Can Expect
Posted by: Tampa Cardio
On: February 15, 2021
Has your cardiologist scheduled an echocardiogram in your near future? If so, you may be wondering what to expect.
An echocardiogram is a diagnostic test using sonar (sound waves) to produces live images of your heart beating and pumping blood. Echocardiograms are often recommended by doctors instances, but most often when issues with your heart valves or the overall pumping action in your heart are suspected.
Prior to the Echocardiogram
Your instructions per procedure vary greatly depending on the type of echocardiogram that will be performed:
- The STRESS ECHO: 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 prior to your appointment. If you are doing an exercise-based stress test, make sure to wear comfortable shoes and loose-fitting clothes.
- Transesophageal echocardiogram: This is a test during which images are taken of your heart through a transducer gently slid down your esophagus, you should refrain from eating for a few hours beforehand for this test as well. Please arrange for a driver as you will be sedated for this test and it may not fully wear off well enough and fast enough for you to drive yourself home.
- Transthoracic echocardiogram: a test in which images are taken of the heart directly through the chest wall. No advance preparation is 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:
- You may hear strangely loud whooshing sounds 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 will be numbed, and you may even be sedated.
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. www.tampacardio.com to learn more about our practice.
Posted by: Tampa Cardio