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What is an Echo­cardiogram?

An echocardiogram or “echo” is a test using sound waves (ultrasound) to create pictures of your heart and nearby blood vessels.
Echo­cardiogram at Windsor Cardiac Centre

Why is it done?

Your doctor might request an echocardiogram to:
  • Identify heart disease
  • Check for problems with the heart valves or chambers
  • Assess your hearts condition after a cardiac event such as a heart attack or heart failure

How do I prepare?

You can eat normally and take your medications, at their usual times, before the test.  We recommend patients:

  • Bring a list of your current medications (medication print out available here)
  • Avoid caffeine 4 hours before the test including: tea, coffee, decaffeinated products, chocolate, soda pop or medications containing caffeine.
  • Avoid smoking right before the test.
  • Do not apply any lotions, creams or powders to the chest area prior to the appointment.
  • Wear comfortable clothing. You will be asked to remove upper clothing then change into a hospital gown before the test. 

What happens during the test?

An echocardiogram is performed by a certified technician (sonographer).

  1. You’ll be instructed to lie down on an examination table on your left side.
  2. Several small electrode stickers (sensors) will be attached to your chest. These will be connected to a machine that monitors your heart beat during the test.
  3. The sonographer spreads gel on the small probe (transducer).
  4. The transducer is pressed against your chest to record the sound wave echoes from your heart.
  5. A computer converts these echoes into moving images on a screen.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I eat before the test?

Yes. You can eat normally before your echo­cardiogram.

Should I take my medications the day of?

Yes. Take any medications on your normal, prescribed, schedule unless otherwise instructed by your physician.

What should I wear for my echo­cardiogram?

Wear comfortable clothing. Your upper clothing will need to be removed for the echo test. Please do not apply any lotions, creams or powders to your chest area.

Does it hurt?

No. You should feel no major discomfort during the test. However, in certain instances, the transducer must be held firmly against your chest, this pressure can be slightly uncomfortable at times.

How/When do I get my results?

Your test results will be sent to the referring physician and your family doctor. If a consultation has been requested, we will set up an appointment for you to speak to a cardiologist to discuss the results with you.

Are there any risks or side effects?

No. An echo is a simple and safe procedure. There are no side effects from the scan, although the lubricating gel may feel cold and you may experience some minor discomfort when the electrodes are removed from your skin at the end of the test.

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