Difference Between ECG and ECHO Test

In This Article

Difference Between ECG and ECHO Test



Updated on July 10, 2024

Medically verified by Dr. Arya

Fact checked by Sreemoyee


10 minutes

When it comes to cardiac diagnostics, we often come across terms like electrocardiogram (ECG) or echocardiogram (ECHO). Such terms may be quite confusing for a layman.

Are both these terms synonymous or is there any difference between them?

Through this blog, Karetrip will help you understand and obtain better insights about the differences between these two terms.

Understanding ECG

An electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) is a test that checks how your heart is functioning by measuring the electrical activity of the heart. An ECG can help diagnose certain heart conditions, including abnormal heart rhythms and coronary heart disease (heart attack and angina).

A doctor may recommend an ECG if you are experiencing symptoms like chest pain, breathlessness, dizziness, fainting or a feeling of your heart racing, fluttering, thumping or pounding in your chest (palpitations).

When Is It Done?

Some common situations where an ECG is typically done include:

  • Arrhythmias (Abnormal Heart Rhythm) : When a patient experiences irregular heart rhythms, which can include tachycardia (fast heart rate) or bradycardia (slow heart rate), an ECG can help diagnose and monitor these conditions.

  • Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) : If a patient exhibits symptoms such as chest pain or has a history of heart attacks, an ECG can be recommended. CAD occurs when the arteries supplying blood to the heart become narrowed or blocked.

  • Previous History of Heart Attack : Individuals who have previously suffered a heart attack may require regular ECGs as part of ongoing cardiac care to monitor for any signs of recurrent issues.

  • Monitoring Devices such as a Pacemaker : Patients with implanted devices like pacemakers or implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) may need ECGs to assess the functioning of the devices and ensure they are effectively regulating the heart's rhythm.

  • Chest Pain: Chest pain should not be ignored, regardless of its intensity or duration. It's a common reason for undergoing an ECG to help identify potential cardiac issues.

  • Feeling Low Energy While Exercising : If you experience a sudden decrease in energy or stamina during physical activity, it's essential to investigate the cause. An ECG can help determine whether an underlying cardiac condition is contributing to the fatigue.

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Types of ECG/Electrocardiogram Tests

Resting ECG:

A resting ECG is typically performed while the individual is relaxed and comfortable. They are asked to lie down, and electrodes are placed on specific areas of their chest, arms, and legs.

Stress ECG:

The stress ECG involves monitoring an individual's heart while they engage in physical activity, typically on a treadmill. The purpose of the stress ECG is to evaluate how the heart responds to increased stress, such as exercise.

Ambulatory ECG:

This test is useful for detecting irregular heart rhythms or other cardiac issues that might not show up during a short-term test.

Understanding ECHO

Echocardiography, often referred to as an echocardiogram or echo test, is a medical imaging procedure that utilises sound waves to create detailed images of the heart. These images serve as valuable resources for cardiac surgeons, aiding in the detection and evaluation of various heart diseases and related conditions.

When Is It Done?

Echocardiography (ECHO) is a powerful diagnostic tool. Specific symptoms can prompt a recommendation for this test:

Heart Murmurs

When an unusual sound, called heart murmurs, is heard during a heartbeat, it might prompt a recommendation for an Echocardiogram (ECHO) to thoroughly examine the heart's valves and chambers.

Swollen Legs or Feet

Edema or swelling in the legs or feet might be indicative of an issue with the heart's pumping ability. In such cases, an Echocardiogram (ECHO) can provide valuable insights.

Dizziness or Fainting

Experiencing dizziness or fainting episodes can be concerning, and they could be signs of various heart conditions. An Echocardiogram (ECHO) is a vital tool in assessing cardiac health and pinpointing the causes of these symptoms.

Shortness of Breath

Shortness of breath, often accompanied by chest discomfort, can be a sign of various heart conditions. An Echocardiogram (ECHO) can be instrumental in identifying the underlying cause of this symptom.

Weakness or Fatigue

Unexplained weakness or extreme fatigue can be early signs of the heart not functioning optimally. When these symptoms arise, it is essential to consider an ECHO to assess the overall health of the heart and detect potential issues.

Types of ECHO/Echocardiogram Tests

There are several types of echocardiograms, including:

Transthoracic Echocardiogram (TTE):

A standard noninvasive medical procedure used to assess heart and valve function involves creating external images of the heart.

Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE):

Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) is a medical procedure that offers an in-depth view of the heart and aorta by generating internal images. This advanced imaging technique is recommended when standard echocardiograms fall short in providing the necessary level of detail.

Fetal Echocardiogram:

This Noninvasive prenatal testing is a procedure used to assess the health of a developing baby's heart. It involves scanning the pregnant person's belly using an ultrasound wand.

Stress Echocardiogram:

Cardiac stress testing is a diagnostic procedure that assesses how the heart responds to physical activity or stress. This test is commonly used to detect and diagnose coronary artery disease (CAD).

ECG vs ECHO Test: Navigating the Differences

Used to examine the electrical system of the heart.Used to examine the mechanical system of the heart.
The end result shows a wave-like diagram.The end result shows a picture of the heart.
It takes roughly 5 minutes to complete the test.It takes roughly 20 minutes to complete.
Less expensiveMore Expensive
Provides immediate results on the heart's electrical activity.Images are reviewed by a specialist, and results are usually available after analysis
Requires minimal preparationRequire a preparation as the patient has to be in fasting for a few hours before the test, especially if detailed images of the heart are needed.


Are ECG and ECHO the Same?

No, ECG and ECHO are not the same. An ECG (electrocardiogram) uses electrodes to look at abnormalities in your heart’s electrical impulses. An ECHO uses sound waves to determine irregularities in your heart’s structure.

Which Is Better: ECHO or ECG?

An ECHO is better than an ECG because they provide more accurate information on your heart valve functioning.

What Is an ECG and an ECHO?

An ECG/EKG (electrocardiogram) is a non-invasive test used to diagnose heart problems by determining the heart’s rhythm and electrical imbalances.

An ECHO (echocardiogram) is a non-invasive procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to study the structure and functioning of your heart and blood vessels.

Can an ECHO Detect Heart Blockage?

No, an ECG cannot detect a heart blockage. But it can detect the symptoms of a heart blockage. Your doctor might use a heart CT scan to find any calcium deposits or blockages in your heart arteries.

Key Takeaways

The echo and ECG might sound familiar as they are done for the treatment of the heart, but there is a huge difference between them.

An ECG (Electrocardiogram) records the electrical activity of the heart by measuring the impulses that travel through it. It primarily evaluates the heart's rhythm and electrical conduction.

An echocardiogram (echo), on the other hand, utilizes ultrasound technology to create images of the heart's structures, including chambers, valves, and blood flow patterns. It provides detailed anatomical and functional information about the heart.

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Karetrip sources its information according to strict guidelines, consulting scholarly research centres, peer-reviewed periodicals, societies for medical professionals, and publications certifying medical tourism. No tertiary references are used by us. Please refer to our editorial policy. to learn how we maintain the accuracy and timeliness of our material.

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