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    Heart Failure and the Echocardiogram

    What Happens During an Echocardiogram? continued...

    The technician will ask you to lie on your left side on an exam table. He or she will place a wand (called a sound-wave transducer) on several areas of your chest. The wand will have a small amount of gel on the end.

    Sounds are part of the Doppler signal. You may or may not hear the sounds during the test. You may be asked to change positions several times so the technician can take pictures of different areas of your heart.

    You should feel no major discomfort during the test. You may feel coolness from the gel on the transducer and a slight pressure of the transducer on your chest.

    The test will take about 40 minutes. After the test, you can get dressed and go back to your daily activities.

    What Happens During a Stress Echocardiogram?

    Before your stress echo, a technician will gently rub several small areas on your chest and place electrodes (small, flat, sticky patches) on these areas. The electrodes are attached to an EKG that charts your heart's electrical activity during the test.

    An IV will be put into a vein in your arm so medication (such as dobutamine) can be delivered directly into your bloodstream. The technician will perform a resting EKG, measure your resting heart rate, and take your blood pressure. The doctor or nurse will put the medication into the IV while the technician continues to get echo images. The medication will cause your heart to react as if you were exercising.

    At regular intervals, the lab personnel will ask how you are feeling. Tell them if you feel chest, arm, or jaw pain or discomfort; short of breath; dizzy; lightheaded; or if you have any other unusual symptoms.

    The lab personnel will watch for any changes on the EKG that suggest the test should be stopped. The IV will be removed from your arm once all of the medication has entered your bloodstream.

    The medication may cause a warm, flushing feeling and in some cases, a mild headache. If you begin to notice these or other symptoms of concern like chest discomfort, shortness of breath, or irregular heartbeats, tell the lab personnel immediately.

    The appointment will take about 60 minutes.

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