An Echocardiogram uses sound waves to produce images of the heart. This common test allows your doctor to see the complicated dance that is your heart in motion - ventricles squeezing and relaxing, and valves opening and closing in rhythm with your heartbeat. Your doctor can use these images to identify various abnormalities in the heart muscle and valves.
Your doctor may suggest an echocardiogram if he or she suspects problems with the valves or chambers of your heart or your heart's ability to pump. During an echocardiogram the technologist will attach sticky patches (electrodes) to your body to help detect and conduct the electrical currents of your heart. The lights will be dimmed to better view the image on the monitor.
Most echocardiograms take less than an hour, but the timing may vary depending on your condition. Many aspects of a heart's condition can be determined through the use of an echocardiogram: heart size, pumping strength, damage to the heart muscle, valve problems or structural abnormalities.
Stress echocardiograms (echos) are generally obtained when a physician wishes to confirm or rule out the presence of a coronary artery disease. A stress echo is also performed in patients who have diseases involving the heart muscle or valve, or if a patient is having shortness of breath and a cardiac cause is suspected.
Stress echo is made up of three parts: a resting echo study, stress test, and a repeat echo while the heart is still beating fast.
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