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An echocardiogram (echo) is a real-time ultrasound exam of your heart.  Images are acquired using a hand held probe (transducer) that is applied to various areas of your chest.  Two-dimensional pictures are captured by a cardiac sonographer and viewed and interpreted by a cardiologist.                      

Why is an echocardiogram performed?

The test is used to:

  • Evaluate the overall size and function of your heart as well as an accurate assessment of the structure and competency of your valves. 
  • Determine the presence of and or follow the progress of many types of heart disease, such as valve disease, congestive heart failure, myocardial disease, pericardial disease, infective endocarditis, cardiac masses, coronary artery disease and congenital heart disease
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of your medical or surgical treatments

Can I eat or drink on the day of the test?

Yes. Eat and drink as you normally would the day of the test.

Should I take my medications the day of the test?

Take all of your medications at the usual times, as prescribed by your doctor.

What should I wear on the day of the test?

You will change into a hospital gown before the test, so 1 piece outfits such as dresses or overalls are discouraged.

What happens during the test?

  • Your test will take place in the EvergreenHealth Cardiovascular Imaging Center and a cardiac sonographer will perform the ultrasound exam of your heart.
  • Before the test, the sonographer will explain the procedure.
  • You'll be asked to remove your clothing from the waist up and you will be given a hospital gown to wear.
  • A cardiac sonographer will place three electrodes (small, flat, sticky patches) on your chest. The electrodes are attached to the Echo system to monitor your heart's rate and rhythm during the test.
  • The sonographer will ask you to lie on your left side on an exam table. During the echo the sonographer will place the transducer on several different areas of your chest. The transducer will have a small amount of gel on the end of it to help produce clearer images.
  • You may be asked to control your breathing by exhaling and holding it or inhaling and holding it.  The sonographer will guide you thru this. 
  • You will also change positions several times during the exam to allow the sonographer to capture images of different areas of the heart.

How will I feel during the test?

You should feel no significant discomfort during this test. You will feel slight pressure of the transducer on your chest.

How long does the test take?

The Echo usually takes between 30-45 minutes, depending on many variables. After the test, you may get dressed and go home or go to your other scheduled appointments.

How do I get the results of my test?

After a cardiologist has interpreted your echo, the results will be sent to your primary care physician and or you will be called directly with results.

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