An echocardiogram is an ultrasound procedure to examine your heart and its function including the level of blood flow.
What happens during an echocardiogram?
An echocardiogram is painless and takes about 15-30 minutes. A technician may apply patches called electrodes to your chest or legs. These record your heart rate. A clear gel will be spread on your chest. The gel helps to transmit the sound waves to a probe. A probe is pressed onto your skin and moved it back and forth over the chest. The scan will appear on a monitor. The scan will show not only the structure of your heart, but also how your heart valves perform.
In some cases an echocardiogram may be done before and after your heart is stressed. You may be asked to exercise (such as walking on a treadmill) or medication may be used to make your heart beat faster.
Although ultrasound images can be very difficult to read and interpret, you are welcome to view the images during the scan. You may be asked to take deep breaths or to move into different positions to get different images.
Going home after echocardiography
An echocardiogram is usually performed in an outpatient area meaning you can go home shortly after the test is complete. In some cases the technician may talk to you about the results. The results will also be sent to your GP or consultant. Be sure and ask how long you should expect to wait for the results before you leave.
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