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How to Prepare for Echocardiography Testing

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Did you recently schedule an echocardiography test? If this is your first cardiac echo, take a look at what you need to know about the exam day and pre-procedure prep.

Why Do You Need an Echo?

The first prep step is to understand why you need this diagnostic imaging test. Medical providers use the echo to create a picture of the heart and its structure. This allows the doctor to measure the heart wall thickness and view how the heart moves. You may need this test if you have existing heart disease or potential heart problems. An echo can help to detect valve defects, heart wall thickening due to untreated high blood pressure, holes or other heart structure problems, blood clots, and other cardiac conditions.

Where Is a Cardiac Echo Done?

You will either go to your doctor's office, an outpatient clinic, an imaging center, or a hospital for this test. This procedure won't require anesthesia or sedation. Without sedation, you'll get to go home immediately after the test. Most patients can drive themselves to and from the medical center or hospital themselves.

Can You Eat and Drink Before the Echo?

Unlike procedures or tests that require sedation, you can eat/drink as you normally would before a cardiac. You can also take your regular medications before this imaging test. If the doctor does want you to restrict food, beverages, or medications before the test, they'll provide you with pre-echocardiogram instructions. Always follow your doctor's instructions exactly. Contact the office with questions or concerns.

Do You Need to Prepare Differently for Stress Testing?

Some patients may need an echocardiogram and a stress test at the same time. You may need to avoid caffeinated products before a stress test. Along with caffeine, the doctor may ask you not to eat or drink in the hours leading up to your test time.

What Should You Wear to Your Test?

If your echocardiogram also includes a treadmill stress test, wear comfortable clothes and shoes. You'll need to move freely for the entire test. Avoid anything that could limit your movement or might get caught in the treadmill. Instead of dress shoes or high heels, choose running or walking shoes/sneakers with no-slip treads. Patients who will only have a cardiac echo (without an added stress test) should also wear comfortable clothes. You may need to remove your top and wear a hospital/medical gown for the imaging appointment.

For more information, contact health services like Alpert Zales & Castro Pediatric Cardiology.