An echocardioagram works by using a probe which emits sound waves that are reflected back by the tissues and muscles within your heart.

The reflected waves from the heart are then translated into images on a screen.

Think of it as very similar to an ultrasound scan which is used during pregnancy.

A medical professional can see from these images if there are any problems with your heart. This is particularly useful to see if you have an enlarged heart, leaking vales or signs of heart failure.

Both of these conditions can be caused by high blood pressure.

This test is performed at your local hospital. It does not involve an overnight stay unless your GP wants to conduct a further investigation. In this case a small probe will be inserted down your throat and into your chest cavity so that it lies just behind your heart.

If so then you will be given a sedative and/or local anaesthetic but this doesn’t usually result in an overnight stay.

Preparing for an echocardiogram

If you are having this internal probe then you will be asked to avoid food and drink a few hours before the test. This is due to the sedative and/or local anaesthetic.

It is a good idea to ask someone to drive you to and from the hospital as you will feel tired and slightly woozy after this procedure.

If you are taking any high blood pressure medication then continue to do so and any other medication as normal.

The echocardiogram procedure

This test usually takes around 30 to 45 minutes although it will depend upon which procedure you are having.

If your GP is concerned about the effect of your high blood pressure on your heart muscle or valves then you will undergo the external procedure. By that we mean that a probe will be placed on your chest and moved around to record different views of your heart.

But if your GP wants more detailed information about your heart then you will undergo the internal probe. You will be given a sedative before the probe is inserted into your mouth and passed down your throat to lie behind your heart.

This type of scan will give a clearer and more detailed image of your heart.

Your GP will be able to see if your high blood pressure has caused any damage to your heart.

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