An echocardiogram (also known as an echo) is a test that uses sound waves to build up a moving picture of the heart. It is similar to the ultrasound scan used in pregnancy.

What happens?

During the test, you will be asked to lie on your left side with your left arm behind your head. A gel will be put on your chest and an ultrasound probe (recorder) will be placed at various points on your chest between your ribs. The probe will pick up echoes from your heart and show them on a screen as a detailed image of the structures of your heart.

The test can take from 15 minutes up to an hour. It’s a safe and easy test, and most people find it’s not uncomfortable at all.

What are the risks?

A standard echocardiogram is a safe procedure. There are no known complications associated with having it.