How to Prepare for an Echocardiogram
- Posted on: Apr 27 2023
The echocardiogram is one of the most commonly performed, non-invasive cardiac diagnostic tools, with 25 million of them performed worldwide each year. It is a procedure that uses sound waves to detect heart conditions and can be part of annual physical exams or scheduled if a patient has symptoms of heart disease.
If you need to have an echocardiogram, learn more about this procedure and how you can prepare for it.
What is an echocardiogram?
An echocardiogram monitors the movements of the heart. It gives a visual video of your heart’s activity, showing the valves and chambers and how blood flows through the entire organ. It is a procedure that allows your doctor to identify heart disease.
There are various types of echocardiograms, each one offering different information. They include:
- Transthoracic echocardiogram
- Transesophageal echocardiogram
- Stress echocardiogram
The standard type is the transthoracic echocardiogram, where the sonographer uses a device called a transducer to record sound waves from your heart.
If the regular echocardiogram could not record good images of your heart or if your doctor wants images that are more clearly outlined, they may order a transesophageal echocardiogram.
For this procedure, your doctor will numb your throat so that they can pass a tube containing the ultrasound device into your esophagus. This allows the transducer to record your heart’s sound wave echoes.
A stress echocardiogram is a good choice for people with heart problems involving the coronary arteries, which only show up during physical activity. Your doctor will take an echocardiogram before and after you start the stress test to see how your heart responds.
Preparing for an Echocardiogram
How you prepare for the procedure will depend on the type of echocardiogram you will have.
You do not have to do much to prepare for the standard procedure — the transthoracic echocardiogram. You can eat and drink normally, and you usually do not have to stop taking any medications, although you should always speak with your doctor about this beforehand. For this procedure, you can also wear whatever you like.
For a transesophageal echocardiogram, you want to let your doctor know if you have any problems with your esophagus, like a hiatal hernia, or if you have any problems swallowing. You also want to let them know if you have sleep apnea and if you take medications for anxiety, pain, or sleep disorders.
You do not want to eat or drink anything for at least six hours before the test. Ask about whether you should continue taking your usual medications. Most people get sedated during this type of echocardiogram, so you will want to have someone there to drive you home afterward.
If you have a stress echocardiogram, you want to stop smoking for at least a day before the test. Avoid all types of caffeine for at least 24 hours beforehand, and do not eat anything or drink anything besides water for at least four hours before the test.
If you take heart medications, let your doctor know. They will advise you on whether to take them as you normally would or not. Because you will have to walk on a treadmill or ride a stationary bike, wear something comfortable to your appointment.
Get Quality Heart Care at Cardiovascular Wellness
When you turn to us at Cardiovascular Wellness in Hicksville and Lake Success, New York, you are getting quality heart care from some of the leading cardiologists in the area. We offer individualized treatment plans to help you manage any heart conditions you may experience. Call us today to schedule an appointment with one of our experts.