An echocardiogram, also called an "echo," is a very useful test to check for heart failure. Heart failure means that your heart can't pump as much blood as your body needs. During an echo, your doctor can check how much blood your heart is pumping during each heartbeat. This is called an ejection fraction.
An echo can also show if your heart is enlarged and if your heart valves are working as they should.
During an echo, you lie on a table. A technician moves a handheld device called a transducer across your chest. The device sends sound waves that echo off your heart. They create an image of your heart beating. The technician may ask you to breathe slowly or hold your breath.
An echo takes about 30 to 60 minutes.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call 911 if you have symptoms of sudden heart failure such as:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if you develop new symptoms.
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Current as of: April 3, 2017
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
& Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & George Philippides, MD - Cardiology
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