How Long Does an Echo Test Take? What to Expect

Has your cardiologist called you in for an echo test? You might be feeling nervous or unsure. That’s normal, and we’re here to give you the information you need to feel confident going into the test. 

Echocardiograms are important for determining your heart’s function and health. Learn more about this valuable test and what to expect during your appointment. 

The Purpose of an Echocardiogram

Echo tests show your cardiologist how well your heart pumps blood throughout the rest of your body. They provide a picture of your heart using ultrasound waves. This helps your doctor identify any abnormalities in your heart. 

Cardiologists may order an echo test if you have wheezing, chest pain and pressure, or shortness of breath. These are early warning signs of heart disease, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. 

Echocardiograms can now provide a 3D picture of what’s happening in your heart every time it beats. Your cardiologist will review your results and notify you of any concerning things they see. 

Which Test Do You Need? Types of Echocardiograms

Your cardiologist can order different types of echo tests. It all depends on what their concerns are for your heart health. 

Standard Echo Test (Non-Invasive)

Standard echo tests are called transthoracic echocardiograms. These are taken using an ultrasound wand on top of your chest. 

Internal Echo Test (Transesophageal)

A transesophageal echocardiogram is taken from inside your esophagus, the tube that carries food into your stomach. This echo test also uses ultrasound waves, but it provides a clearer picture of your heart. If a standard echo test is unclear, your cardiologist may order this one. 

Stress Test 

Stress echocardiograms measure cardiac functioning under periods of stress (exercise). You walk on a treadmill that increases in speed periodically to put your heart under stress. Then, your doctor can see any insufficiencies in your blood circulation that may indicate coronary artery disease. 

Echo Test Details: What to Expect

During each echo test, you’ll have to follow your cardiologist’s protocols. Learn more about what to expect during each type of test. 

Standard Echo Test Protocol

You’ll remove your top and any undergarments (like your bra). Your sonographer will place sticky patches (electrodes) in three different places on your chest. Then, the sonographer will move an ultrasound wand over your chest and take pictures of your heart. 

Transesophageal Echo Test Protocol

You’ll receive a sedative through IV to relax you before the procedure starts. Once it takes effect, a medical professional will guide the ultrasound probe into your throat. Once the probe is placed, it will take pictures of your heart. Then, your team will remove the probe and monitor you as the sedative wears off. 

Stress Test Protocol

Your sonographer will place electrodes on your chest and perform a standard echo test first. Then, you’ll use a treadmill or other cardio exercise machine to get your heart rate up. The machine will gradually increase in intensity to measure your heart’s response to stress. 

This test will continue until you’re physically unable to go on. Then, the sonographer will do another standard echo test and give you time to rest. Your team will monitor your vitals until the test is over. 

How long will my echo test take?

Each type of echo test takes a different amount of time. Make sure you carve out plenty of time for your appointments, as wait times can vary. 

Generally, you can expect the following:

  • Standard Echo Test: 40-60 minutes
  • Transesophageal Echo Test: 30-60 minutes
  • Stress Test: 60 minutes

For standard echo tests and stress tests, you won’t need a sedative. You can drive home as soon as your appointment is over. 

Get an Echo Test at Cardiovascular Wellness

Are you in the Lake Success or Hicksville area in Nassau County, NY? Stay on top of your heart health to prevent problems. Schedule an appointment with the experienced cardiologist at Cardiovascular Wellness for your echo test needs.

Posted in: Heart Monitoring

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