Let’s say your doctor has ordered an echocardiogram for you. You’ve never had one of these and the not knowing what to expect is kind of making you nervous. Not to worry, I’ve had three of these and am here to give you a step-by-step rundown.
An echocardiogram is an ultrasound of your heart. It’s just like a pregnancy ultrasound, but of your heart instead of your (or your woman’s) uterus.
I personally have had three echo’s. One just before my heart surgery, one a few weeks after the surgery, and one today to establish the health of my heart for a new cardiologist I’ve started to see.
First you will be asked to disrobe from the waist up. Yes, the tech will see and touch your boobies during the test. You are given a gown (worn with the front open) and a towel to use for some semblance of modesty.
You will then lay on a padded table on your left side. The tech will put three sticky pads on your chest and rib areas and then attach sensor lines to them (like an EKG). Then the tech will put some gel on the end of their ultrasound wand and use it to press and rub on your chest (between your tah-tahs) to get a good look at your heart. Some people experience a little discomfort from the pressing and rubbing, but it really depends on individual sensitivity; it doesn’t bother me.
You will most likely be in a position to be able to watch the computer screen and see your heart pumping and hear it, too. It’s really fascinating.
Ba dum ba dum ba dum. Actually, it sounds more like a swishy squishy kind of pumping noise.
You can watch the pumping and even notice the valves opening and closing. Really cool stuff.
You will see the tech typing on their keyboard and using the mouse to highlight parts of your heart and take screen shots and record sections of your heartbeat, and taking measurements. Do not worry, this doesn’t mean they are pointing out problems. It simply means they are following the doctors instructions and making sure he gets the information he needs and asked for from this test.
The tech will also use the wand on your left side ribs (just under your left naughty pillow). Here they will do the same scenario as they did with your chest.
The third part they check requires you to lay on your back. The wand will be put to your abdomen just under your last rib, kind of to the right. This is to see the bottom of your heart.
Last they will place the wand on your throat just above your clavicle. This is to see the top of your heart.
You might be thinking this sounds suspiciously like the same thing they do for your stress test, and it is very similar. But for this test you do not need to get all hot and sweaty and winded. Also, the stuff they are doing and looking for is different.
All-in-all this test takes around 20 minutes, give or take.
No pain, no exercise, no worries.