What is echocardiography?
Echocardiography is a test that uses sound waves to produce live images of your heart. The image is an echocardiogram. This test allows your doctor to monitor how your heart and its valves are functioning. The images can help them spot:
- blood clots in the heart
- fluid in the sac around the heart
- problems with the aorta, which is the main artery connected to the heart
An echocardiogram is key in determining the health of the heart muscle, especially after a heart attack. It can also reveal heart defects in unborn babies.
Taking an echocardiogram is painless. There are only risks in very rare cases with certain types of echocardiograms.
Your doctor may order an echocardiogram for several reasons. For example, they may have discovered an abnormality from other testing or while listening to your heartbeat through a stethoscope. If you have an irregular heartbeat, your doctor may want to inspect the heart valves or chambers or check your heart’s ability to pump. They may also order one if you’re showing signs of heart problems, such as chest pain or shortness of breath.