What is an echocardiogram?
An echocardiogram, also known as echocardiography, is an image of the heart produced with sound waves. It is a very common test which is given to patients who have, or may have, a heart problem. Receiving an heart`s image is very simple. The patient lies down on an exam table. Gel is applied, and then the technician moves a sonography wand back and forth across the patient’s chest. The wand emits harmless sound waves that the attached computer uses to create images of the heart.
echocardiography can produce two-dimensional or three-dimensional images, and it can produce still or moving images. Your cardiologist will arrange the sounds waves to create the type of image that will help him or her the most with your specific condition.
Why do you need an Echocardiogram?
An echocardiogram is a very common test that can be given for many reasons.
Your heart doctor may be interested in seeing the size and shape of your heart, or locating damaged heart tissue. A cardiologist may also want to see how powerfully your heart pumps, or how easily it relaxes. A circulatory specialist may want to know how much blood gets “stuck” inside plaque-filled arteries. Some symptoms that might lead a cardiovascular specialist to request an echocardiogram include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Racing heart
- Irregular heartbeat or heart murmur
- Nausea, caused or worsened by exercise
- Frequent tingling sensation or numbness throughout the body
- Previous heart attack, heart disease, or stroke
An echocardiography, like all sound-based imaging techniques, is completely safe, non-invasive, and non-toxic. No needles, surgical tools, or anesthesia are used. Patients are not exposed to any radiation through this test. For these reasons, an echocardiography is a test that can be given to patients of any age, as often as needed.