An echocardiogram (ECG) is a test performed to assess a patient’s heart health. It may be included in the annual physical exam or performed when a patient complains of symptoms associated with heart disease, such as heart palpitations, chest pain, chest tightness, and shortness of breath.
An ECG is a type of ultrasound test that shows the valves and chambers of the heart as well as the flow of blood through it. The test requires minimal preparation. If you have an upcoming ECG test, here’s what you can do to prepare.
Preparing for an ECG Test
Your preparation needs depend on the type of ECG test you are undergoing. For a transthoracic echocardiogram, which is a noninvasive test involving the placement of a transducer on the chest, no preparation is needed. The same goes for a Doppler echocardiogram, where a transducer is held against the skin to record images of the heart’s blood vessels. However, you should talk to your doctor about any medication adjustments you should make prior to the test.
A transesophageal echocardiogram involves the insertion of a tube down the throat to get a better view of the heart’s structures while you are sedated. Since the procedure is invasive and requires the use of a sedative, it is recommended that you do not eat or drink anything for six hours before the exam. Wear comfortable clothing (you will be asked to change into a hospital gown) and leave your valuables at home. If you are taking special medication, you may take them as instructed or check with your doctor for specific instructions on medicating on the day of the test. After the procedure, you may feel a bit groggy due to the sedation. Therefore, you should ask someone to drive you home.
In a stress echocardiogram test, you will be asked to walk on a treadmill or ride a stationary bike to check how your heart works during physical activity. For this test, it is recommended that you do not eat or drink for a certain number of hours before the test. Smoking and drinking caffeinated drinks should be avoided a day before the test. If you are taking medication, check with your doctor for specific instructions. For patients unable to perform exercise tests, a medicine may be injected to make the heart pump as if the patient were exercising or to mimic the heart pumping and blood flow during physical activity.
Diagnostic Testing Center in Irmo, SC
An ECG test is the first step to recovery for most patients. At SC Internal Medicine Associates & Rehabilitation, we offer quick, convenient, and comprehensive diagnostic services in a comfortable and relaxing setting. Moreover, we also treat a wide range of medical conditions affecting adults.
As part of our patient-centric approach, we deliver care with kindness, warmth, and compassion, and understand how patients’ experiences of going in for a diagnostic test can range from uncomfortable to nerve-wracking. To schedule your next diagnostic test, call (803) 749-1111 or use our convenient appointment request form. We look forward to serving you.