Echocardiography is a type of ultrasound test that uses high-frequency sound waves to view the structures of the heart and how well they function. It may be used to assess heart function after a heart attack or in the presence of symptoms such as abnormal heart sounds, chest pain, difficulty breathing and irregular heartbeats. It can also detect fluid collection around the heart.
A lubricating gel is applied to your chest which helps transmit sound waves. Sound waves are passed through a device called a transducer, which is glided over the lubricated area of the chest. The transducer picks up the echoes of the sound waves as they bounce off different parts of the heart. It is connected to the echocardiogram machine which processes the images and converts them into moving images of the heart.
The test takes about 15-30 minutes and requires no preparation. Sound waves used in echocardiography are harmless and painless. It may be performed at home through the home health service for the elderly and bedbound patients.