Echocardiography, also known as an ultrasound of the heart, is a diagnostic test that uses sound waves to examine the heart. The test helps determine the size and shape of the heart, as well as how well its components are functioning. The results of the test are often used to diagnose high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, congenital heart defects, an aneurysm, or other heart conditions.

The Purpose of Echocardiography

An echocardiogram can be used to examine the following:

  • The size of the heart
  • The strength of the heart muscles
  • A malfunction of heart valves
  • An abnormality of the structure of the heart
  • Aorta
  • Blood clot or tumor

Considerations of Echocardiography

An echocardiogram is a painless procedure performed in your doctor's office in about 30 minutes. Depending on the type of exam, the patient may be required to fast for eight hours before the exam in order for a special dye to be visible within the heart. The images of the heart are shown on a video monitor in real time for the doctor and patient to view during the exam. The results are fully analyzed by the doctor after the exam. There are no risks associated with an echocardiogram, and patients can return to their normal activities immediately after the exam.