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What to Expect During an Echocardiogram

You’re experiencing symptoms that may be heart-related, and we want to take a closer look at the function of this all-important organ using an echocardiogram, or EKG. 

While you may be nervous about undergoing a diagnostic test, Dr. James Kim and our team want to assure you that an echocardiogram is a painless — and effective — way for us to see the internal structures and function of your heart.

Here’s a look at what you can expect during your echocardiogram.

Echocardiography 101

Before we get into a more detailed look at what happens during your echocardiogram, let’s quickly review why this technology is so important when it comes to evaluating your heart health.

Echocardiography relies on sound waves to create a moving picture of your heart in action. We deliver the sound waves through a specialized device, and they pass harmlessly through your tissue. The sound waves bounce off of your heart and nearby blood vessels to create an image.

Through an EKG, we’re able to determine how the four chambers of your heart are functioning, as well as their valvular functioning. An EKG can also detect blood clots in your heart, fluid buildup, and problems in your aorta, which is the main artery leading from your heart.

As a diagnostic tool, an EKG provides us with incredibly useful information that allows us to determine the next steps to preserve your heart health. Or, if we find that’s nothing wrong with your heart, an EKG provides you with valuable peace of mind!

Undergoing an EKG

While there’s nothing invasive about echocardiography, we might inject a saline or dye into one of your veins to better visualize the function of your heart and major blood vessels.

When you come in, we typically ask you to remove your shirt (we can provide a gown) and then we get you situated on our examination table — either on your back or on your left side. Once you’re comfortable, we place electrodes on your chest, and we also apply a gel that helps with the transmission of the sound waves.

Next, we move a handheld device called a transducer around your chest to create images of your heart from every angle. We’re able to see the images in real time on a monitor, which allows us to adjust your EKG accordingly in case we see something that deserves a closer look.

Once we’re finished, we remove the electrodes and supply you with a towel to wipe away the gel. After getting dressed, you’re free to return to your day without skipping a beat while we review the findings.

An EKG and stress test

If we want to observe the function of your heart and major blood vessels while they’re hard at work, we may ask that you undergo a stress test, which is the same as an EKG except we’ll ask you to walk or run on a treadmill. Here again, the test is completely harmless, though you may feel a little tired afterward.

If you have more questions about undergoing an EKG, please don’t hesitate to contact one of our two locations in National City or Chula Vista, California.

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