An echocardiogram is a non-invasive diagnostic test performed to evaluate the hearts function. While the echocardiogram is being done, both you and your doctor will be able to watch your heart, as it beats, on a small monitor. Conductive gel will be placed on your chest, and then a transducer will be placed on top of the gel. It is able to "broadcast" high frequency sound waves into your chest cavity. These sound waves bounce off of your heart and the results, or echoes, are picked up on the echocardiogram machine, which makes pictures based on the sound waves.
An echocardiogram is able to monitor the performance of the valves. It can help to diagnose structural abnormalities in the heart wall, valves, and blood vessels. It can detect tumors, clots of pericardial effusions (abnormal fluid collection around the heart). It is sometimes used after a heart attack to evaluate the cardiac wall motion and function.
A stress echocardiography, also called echocardiography stress test or stress echo, is a procedure that determines how well your heart and blood vessels are working. During a stress echocardiography, you will exercise on a treadmill while your doctor monitors your blood pressure and heart rhythm.