Synonyms: Cardiac echo, Echo
Medical Specialties: Cardiology, Internal medicine
An echocardiogram is the record of images and other data obtained through use of ultrasound technology in the investigation of the heart and great vessels, and for the diagnosis of cardiovascular lesions.
Echocardiography, or echo, is recorded imagery that utilizes ultrasound technology to create moving pictures of the heart, showing the chambers and valves at work. In stress echocardiography, the patient will exercise or be given a drug called dobutamine to make the heart stressed (work harder) while the ultrasound images are gathered. These are then compared to the images of the heart when the patient is at rest.
Changes in the way the heart moves under stress can indicate coronary heart disease. In people already diagnosed with heart disease, an echo might be performed to get a better sense of a patient’s level of risk. Or, prior to surgery, an echo may be needed to confirm the heart is healthy enough for surgery.