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Difference Between Electrocardiogram and Echocardiogram

difference between electrocardiogram and echocardiogram
HWC Team
November05/ 2015


Doctors need to conduct different tests in order to determine your heart’s health and to detect any serious cardiovascular disorder. Two of the most common tests that doctors conduct for the heart are electrocardiogram and echocardiogram.

Electrocardiogram is abbreviated as ECG or EKG and while both these tests sound to be similar, they are used to detect different heart abnormalities. Your doctor might recommend you one of these tests or recommend you both depending on the initial diagnosis. Let us look at the difference between electrocardiogram and echocardiogram in details:

Electrocardiogram and Echocardiogram Basics

Electrocardiogram

  • Electrocardiogram or ECG is a simple test that is painless and non invasive in nature. It takes only a few minutes to conduct this test and basically measures the efficiency of your heart.
  • There is a rhythm at which a healthy heart should beat and ECG simply displays this pattern. The doctors see this pattern in order to determine any abnormalities.
  • You have to lie down on a table and a gel is applied on your chest, legs and arms along with small patches.
  • The electric activity of the heart is recorded as waves on paper.
  • All this is done by an ECG technician and is usually recommended by the doctor to detect irregular heartbeat (too fast or too slow), any kind of damage to cardiac muscles and tissues, etc.
  • If you get an abnormal ECG result, it always does not mean that there is reason to worry about as it can be due to many reasons.

Echocardiogram

  • Echocardiogram is also known as the ultrasound of the heart and is also non invasive test. However, it takes about 30 minutes to conduct this test and it makes use of ultrasound technology to offer picture of the structure of your heart.
  • The technician applies a water-soluble gel on your chest and then a device called transducer is placed on your chest.
  • Its job is to bounce off sound waves from the valves and walls of your heart. These waves return as echoes to the transducer and these echoes are converted into sharp images of your beating heart that are moving.
  • This test shows the size of the four chambers present in your heart. It also shows the left ventricle’s function as that is the main pumping chamber of your heart.
  • Patients who have had a heart attack or who have valve problems or high blood pressure are usually recommended this as any abnormality becomes apparent through this test.
  • Sometimes Doppler ultrasound is also added to this equipment for getting the picture of the blood flowing through the heart. Valve narrowing and valve leaks can be determined through this process.

Relationship Between Electrocardiogram and Echocardiogram

Doctors would usually recommend your ECG initially and then if there are any kinds of abnormalities in the results as far as some heart disease are concerned, echocardiogram can be recommended for knowing in-depth details about the functioning of your heart. When used together, both these tests greatly increase the diagnosis accuracy of any heart disease, mostly the common ones.

HWC Team

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