An echocardiogram is a common test that uses high-frequency ultrasound waves to create a moving picture of the heart while it is beating. It shows the size and shape of the heart, and provides images of the chambers, walls, valves, and blood vessels. It is a 2D or sometimes 3D mini-documentary that shows how well your heart is doing its job of beating and pumping blood, and it tips off your doctor if there are any problems.
Echocardiograms are used to assess heart health in both adults and children. They are low-risk and painless. But they provide critical information about your heart that can be invaluable in determining the next steps for treating a heart problem.
“An echocardiogram is often the first-line imaging procedure ordered when evaluating suspected cardiac disease,” says Sarah C. Hull, MD, MBE, a Yale Medicine cardiologist who specializes in echocardiography. “It can be done rapidly and portably, involves no radiation, and provides a wealth of information about cardiac structure and function in real time, at a fraction of the cost of other imaging modalities.”