WHAT IS AN ECHOCARDIOGRAM?
An echocardiogram is a painless procedure that enables doctors to see how well the heart is functioning. The test utilizes sound waves to create moving images that are recorded and displayed on a computer. Echocardiography not only enables physicians to see the size and shape of the heart, but it helps them pinpoint heart muscles that aren’t working efficiently and detect blood clots or problems with major arteries.
For some patients, the physician will order an echocardiogram that also utilizes a treadmill. The combination of echocardiogram plus treadmill helps the physician see how the heart performs during exercise or times of added stress.
During an echocardiogram, a gel is applied to the chest to help the sound waves reach the heart. A transducer—a wand-like device that transmits ultrasound waves—is moved around on the chest. A computer then converts the images relayed by the sound waves into an image on a computer screen. In addition, electrodes—soft sticky patches used to monitor heart activity— are attached to the patient’s chest during this procedure. These electrodes allow an EKG (electrocardiogram) to record the heart’s rhythm.
Read more about echocardiography in our article, “What You Need To Know About Your Heart Test.”
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute –“What to Expect”