What is an Echo?

An echo (or echocardiogram) is an extremely useful test to which allows us to look at the heart structure and function. The technology uses an ultrasound beam which reflects from the heart structures to create a moving image of your heart on a screen. A thorough echo scan takes about half an hour to perform by one of our highly specialised cardiac physiologists.

We can measure many aspects of heart structure and function, such as how strong the function is, whether the heart chambers are enlarged, if the heart muscle is thickened, whether valves are narrow or leaking, and whether the lining of the heart (the pericardium) is abnormal in some way.

Why has an echo been requested for me?

Typically, most patients that are referred to their cardiologist will need an echo. It is very useful to understand if the heart structure is normal or not, when an individual describes symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, palpitations and blackouts; or if your ECG (electrocardiogram) is thought to be abnormal; or if a doctor has heard a murmur (a “whooshing” sound heard through a stethoscope.) Some people describe a family history of particular types of heart disease which cause abnormalities of the heart structure (such as an abnormally thickened heart muscle, referred to as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy).