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Echocardiogram vs. EKG: What's the Difference?

Echocardiogram vs. EKG: What's the Difference?

Electrocardiograms (EKGs) and echocardiograms are noninvasive procedures that help physicians diagnose cardiovascular conditions. While they have similar names, these tests have different purposes.

At Chinatown Cardiology, with multiple New York City locations, we use the most advanced technologies to evaluate your heart health and identify underlying cardiovascular problems like heart disease and valve damage.

Our experienced cardiologists determine if you’re a candidate for an EKG or an echocardiogram during an evaluation. They also explain your test results in detail so you can make the most informed decisions about your heart health.

Understanding EKG testing

An EKG, sometimes called an ECG, records the electrical signals in your heart.

During your test, your provider attaches multiple sticky electrode sensors to your skin, including the area over your heart. There’s nothing you need to do during the test but relax while the EKG device records information.

The EKG device displays the signals your heart produces with each beat in graph form, which can help identify conditions like arrhythmia.

What to know about an echocardiogram

An echocardiogram is a type of ultrasound that uses sound waves to create images of your heart. This test gives your cardiologist an opportunity to assess the structures of your heart, including the four chambers and valves.

During an echocardiogram, your provider places a hand-held device over your chest that delivers sound waves through your skin. The sound waves create a picture of your heart on an external monitor.

An echocardiogram can show how well your heart pumps blood to the rest of your body. It can also highlight damage in the chambers that interfere with blood circulation.

Similarities and differences between an echocardiogram and EKG

Echocardiograms and EKGs are noninvasive, painless tests that provide vital information about the function of your heart. We perform both tests on an outpatient basis, and no downtime or recovery is required.

You might be a candidate for an EKG or echocardiogram if you have unexplained symptoms like:

Our providers may also request an EKG or echocardiogram as part of a preventive heart screening if you have a history of heart disease.

If you’re taking medications to control an existing cardiovascular condition, an EKG or echocardiogram may be part of your routine checkups to ensure treatment is working.

The biggest differences between the tests are the technologies used to perform them and the information they provide. EKGs focus on the electrical activity in your heart, and echocardiograms create detailed pictures of the organ.

Typically, our providers order an EKG first to identify problems with your heart’s function. If the EKG doesn’t provide enough information, we may request an echocardiogram to get a closer look at the inner structures of your heart.

Call the Chinatown Cardiology office near you today to learn more about the diagnostic benefits of EKGs and echocardiograms. You can also book an appointment online.

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