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If you are experiencing heart pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, or swelling in your legs, you may need to be tested for a heart condition. At Richmond University Medical Center in Staten Island, New York, we offer a comprehensive suite of cardiology tests to ensure an accurate diagnosis. We utilize echocardiograms to evaluate the condition of your heart, diagnose any anomalies, and prescribe an effective treatment.

What Is an Echocardiogram?

Echocardiograms are non-invasive cardiology tests and just one tool among the many available at our Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory and outpatient facilities. In short, an echocardiogram uses high-energy ultrasound waves to generate an image of the heart. This image can then be used to examine the heart’s structure and function for abnormalities. Echocardiograms are used to identify a variety of conditions, including the following:

  • Valve disorders
  • Myocardial and pericardial inflammation
  • Infective endocarditis
  • Cardiac masses
  • Congenital heart disorders

Echocardiograms are sometimes administered alone but are often used alongside other tests to ensure an accurate diagnosis.

What to Expect During Your Echocardiogram

On the day of your echocardiogram, we recommend wearing a shirt that will be easy to remove for testing. The procedure itself follows these few simple steps:

  1. You’ll undress from the waist up and lie on an examination bed.
  2. The technician will apply a safe, conductive gel to a hand-held wand called a transducer.
  3. The technician will press the transducer to your chest, moving it back and forth. You may be asked to breathe in a certain way or to roll over on your side.

If you will have a transesophageal echocardiogram, the procedure is slightly different. First, your throat will be numbed, and you’ll receive a sedative to help you relax. Then, a tube containing a transducer will be guided down your throat and positioned to capture images of your heart. You may also be asked not to eat for several hours beforehand, and you won’t be able to drive afterward.

In either kind of procedure, the transducer will emit sound waves and record their echoes as images, which can be examined to detect abnormalities and diagnose your condition. The entire procedure usually takes less than an hour.  

When to Undergo an Echocardiogram

At Richmond University Medical Center, we use echocardiograms as a preliminary test for a variety of heart conditions. You’ll likely receive one if you are experiencing any signs or symptoms of heart disease, such as:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fainting
  • Dizziness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Swelling in the legs

An echocardiogram may also be appropriate if you face an increased risk of heart disease due to the following risk factors and others:

  • Diabetes
  • Family history of heart problems
  • Existing heart conditions
  • Smoking or alcohol use
  • Stress
  • High cholesterol

Schedule Cardiology Testing Today

Echocardiograms and other diagnostic tests are valuable tools for ensuring an accurate diagnosis and reliable treatment of heart conditions. At Richmond University Medical Center, we offer a full line of cardiology tests and evaluations to be read by expert cardiologists. Once we learn the results, we will issue an accurate diagnosis and form a trustworthy treatment plan. To learn more, contact us in Staten Island today.