An echocardiogram can reveal important information about your health. At Maryland Cardiology Associates, the expert cardiologists provide cutting-edge echocardiograms to people living in or around Greenbelt, Maryland, to evaluate their overall heart health. Get on top of your heart health with demonstrably effective diagnostic testing today. Call or book an appointment online today.

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What is an echocardiogram?

An echocardiogram, often called an echo, refers to a diagnostic test that uses sound waves to produce images of your heart. These images allow your cardiologist to see how your heart pumps blood throughout your body.

An echocardiogram can also reveal:

  • Modifications in the size of your heart
  • The strength with which it pumps blood
  • Problems in your valves
  • Any potential damage to its muscular function

An echocardiogram may also reveal heart defects.

When should I get an echocardiogram?

Since it is a diagnostic test, an echocardiogram can help you and your cardiologist identify problem areas and the treatment plan that is best suited for you.

Your cardiologist might recommend an echocardiogram if you have been experiencing problematic symptoms, including extreme fatigue, sustained chest pain, or shortness of breath.

Suppose you and your cardiologist have already established that you have existing heart problems. In that case, your cardiologist might recommend an echocardiogram to identify its underlying cause and offer a comprehensive treatment plan.

How does an echocardiogram work?

Your cardiologist at Maryland Cardiology Associates can use an echocardiogram in three main different ways, depending on the kind of information they seek:

Transthoracic echocardiogram

During a transthoracic echocardiogram, your cardiologist or a technician spreads gel on a transducer—a device that they then press firmly against your skin.

Once up against your skin, the transducer uses ultrasound technology to record the sound waves from your heart and transmit them to a computer. The computer then transfers the sound waves into images.

Transesophageal echocardiogram

If a transthoracic echocardiogram proves challenging to get a clear image of your heart, your cardiologist might recommend a transesophageal echocardiogram to get more detailed images.

During this test, your cardiologist numbs your throat with a medical spray and gives you a mild, IV-injected sedative to help you relax. They then insert a flexible tube that contains a transducer down your throat. The transducer functions the same way that it would during a transthoracic echocardiogram.

Because sedation is involved, you may need someone to come and pick you up and take you home.

Stress echocardiogram

If your symptoms only occur when you are exercising, your cardiologist might recommend a stress echocardiogram.

During this test, your cardiologist captures ultrasound images before and after you exercise on a stationary bike or treadmill. If you can’t exercise, they may inject a medication that makes your heart beat faster to simulate exercise.

What can I expect after my echocardiogram?

Your echocardiogram shouldn’t last more than an hour. Depending on the type of echocardiogram you receive, you may need monitoring to make sure you recover from any potential sedation.

Your cardiologist may ask you to book a follow-up appointment if your results are concerning to dig deeper into your heart issues.

Learn more about the benefits of echocardiograms by booking an appointment at Maryland Cardiology Associates online or by phone today.