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Transthoracic Echocardiogram


What is a transthoracic echocardiogram?

A transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE) is a procedure used to check for problems with your heart. It will also show any problems in the blood vessels near your heart. Sound waves are sent through a handheld device placed on your chest. The sound waves show the structure and function of your heart through pictures on a monitor.

What will happen during my test?

  • You will lie on your back or left side. Your healthcare provider will place gel on your chest and move an ultrasound probe back and forth on your chest to look at your heart. You will need to lie still during the test. You may be told to hold your breath at times, or to breathe slowly. Your healthcare provider may put a contrast agent into your IV. The contrast agent will help the pictures of your heart show up better.
  • If you are having a stress TTE, you may need to run on a treadmill or ride an exercise bike. If you cannot exercise, you may be given medicine in your IV that causes your heart to work harder. During a stress TTE, healthcare providers check your heart at rest and while your heart is under stress. Healthcare providers will look for changes in your heart function as your heart beats faster and harder.

What happens after a transthoracic echocardiogram?

You may be able to go home after your procedure. If you are staying in the hospital, you may be taken back to your room.

What are the risks of having a transthoracic echocardiogram?

During a TTE, the pictures of your heart may not be clear. Shadows or reflections may be seen as heart problems when your heart is normal. With a TTE, some areas of your heart may be hard to see, and you may need other tests.

What can I do to keep my heart healthy?

  • Eat heart healthy foods. Eat whole grains, fruits, and vegetables every day. Limit salt and high-fat foods. Ask your healthcare provider for more information on a heart healthy diet. Ask if you need to lose weight. Your healthcare provider can help you create a healthy weight-loss plan.
  • Exercise. Your healthcare provider may suggest an exercise program to help improve your heart health. It is best to start slowly, and do more as you get stronger. Do not start an exercise program without talking with your healthcare provider.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Keep a healthy weight so your heart does not have to work so hard. Ask your healthcare provider to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight.
  • Manage your medical conditions. High blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and diabetes can lead to heart problems. Work with your healthcare provider to manage your medical conditions and decrease your risk for heart problems.
  • Do not smoke. If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Smoking increases your risk for heart disease, lung disease, cancer, and other health problems. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you need help quitting.
    Prevent Heart Disease

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have chest pain or trouble breathing that is getting worse over time.
  • You have questions or concerns about having a TTE.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You have any of the following signs of a heart attack:
    • Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest
    • and any of the following:
      • Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm
      • Shortness of breath
      • Nausea or vomiting
      • Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.