What Is an Echo Heart Test?


Quick Answer

An echocardiogram is an ultrasound test that uses a transducer device to send high-pitched sound waves to create a moving picture of the heart, according to WebMD. The sound waves create echoes as they bounce off parts of the heart, which the devices translates to a video screen.

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What Is an Echo Heart Test?
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Full Answer

Types of echocardiograms include transthoracic echocardiogram, stress echocardiogram, Doppler echocardiogram and transesophageal echocardiogram states WebMD. A transthoracic echocardiogram is performed to look for causes of abnormal heart sounds, an enlarged heart, chest pains, shortness of breath or irregular heartbeats. A stress echocardiogram is done to identify and monitor ischemia after a form of stress is induced. A Doppler echocardigram measures the blood pressure and speed of blood flow in the heart and heart valves. A transesophageal echocardiogram is done to monitor the heart during surgery.

When a doctor is interested in heart problems that occur during physical activity, Mayo Clinic indicates that he orders a stress test. During the stress test, the echocardiogram records the heart activity while the patient walks on a treadmill. For patients who have difficulty with exercise, the doctor injects a chemical into the bloodstream that increases the heart without exercise. These tests are especially useful in diagnosing coronary artery disease.

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