Echocardiography is essential in the diagnosis of heart failure, but insufficient resources limit its use. We compared swift (five minutes) simplified echocardiography, using elementary equipment, with standard echocardiography (45 minutes), using advanced equipment. Visual semi-quantification of cardiac dimensions, valvular stenosis, and left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) was performed in 100 consecutive patients with suspected or known heart failure. Agreement between simplified and standard echocardiography was 78-89% regarding semi-quantification of cardiac dimensions, and 95-98% for valvular stenosis (present/not present). Sensitivity and specificity for simplified echocardiography to identify patients with LVEF < 0.40 was 86 and 89%, respectively. Simplified echocardiography using elementary equipment could be an alternative to standard echocardiography in the diagnosis of heart failure. The cost and time saved by using simplified echocardiography allows for more patients to be examined, which should be weighed against its accuracy.