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    An echocardiogram is a test that uses sound waves (ultrasound) to produce images of the heart.

    Images from an echocardiogram can provide important information about:
    • Heart size and shape.
    • The size and thickness and movement of your heart's walls.
    • Heart muscle function and strength.
    • Heart valve function or if you have stenosis. Stenosis is when the heart valves are too narrow.
    • If blood is flowing backward through the heart valves (regurgitation).
    • A tumor or infectious growth around the heart valves.
    • Areas of heart muscle that are not working well because of poor blood flow or injury from a heart attack.
    • Aneurysm detection. An aneurysm is a weak or damaged part of an artery wall. The wall bulges out from the normal force of blood pumping through the body.

    Tell a health care provider about:

    • Any allergies you have.
    • All medicines you are taking, including vitamins, herbs, eye drops, creams, and over-the-counter medicines.
    • Any blood disorders you have.
    • Any surgeries you have had.
    • Any medical conditions you have.
    • Whether you are pregnant or may be pregnant.

    What are the risks?

    Generally, this is a safe test. However, problems may occur, including an allergic reaction to dye (contrast) that may be used during the test.

    What happens before the test?

    No specific preparation is needed. You may eat and drink normally.

    What happens during the test?

    • You will take off your clothes from the waist up and put on a hospital gown.
    • Electrodes or electrocardiogram (ECG)patches may be placed on your chest. The electrodes or patches are then connected to a device that monitors your heart rate and rhythm.
    • You will lie down on a table for an ultrasound exam. A gel will be applied to your chest to help sound waves pass through your skin.
    • A handheld device, called a transducer, will be pressed against your chest and moved over your heart. The transducer produces sound waves that travel to your heart and bounce back (or "echo" back) to the transducer. These sound waves will be captured in real-time and changed into images of your heart that can be viewed on a video monitor. The images will be recorded on a computer and reviewed by your health care provider.
    • You may be asked to change positions or hold your breath for a short time. This makes it easier to get different views or better views of your heart.
    • In some cases, you may receive contrast through an IV in one of your veins. This can improve the quality of the pictures from your heart.

    The procedure may vary among health care providers and hospitals.

    What can I expect after the test?

    You may return to your normal, everyday life, including diet, activities, and medicines, unless your health care provider tells you not to do that.

    Follow these instructions at home:

    • It is up to you to get the results of your test. Ask your health care provider, or the department that is doing the test, when your results will be ready.
    • Keep all follow-up visits. This is important.


    • An echocardiogram is a test that uses sound waves (ultrasound) to produce images of the heart.
    • Images from an echocardiogram can provide important information about the size and shape of your heart, heart muscle function, heart valve function, and other possible heart problems.
    • You do not need to do anything to prepare before this test. You may eat and drink normally.
    • After the echocardiogram is completed, you may return to your normal, everyday life, unless your health care provider tells you not to do that.

    This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.

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