Also known as an echo test, echocardiography or cardiac ultrasound works by using soundwaves to produce moving pictures of the human heart. The echo is used to pinpoint and evaluate specific problems of the heart and related functions. This includes information on the structure and the non-invasive blood floor.
Patients will usually have an echo test recommended in situations that involve:
- Heart murmur
- Prior heart attack
- Unexplained chest pains
- Rheumatic fever
- Valve issues or congenital heart defects
What is Echocardiogram?
This is a test using ultrasound waves when examining the heart. The procedure is safe, painless, and helps physicians while diagnosing a range of heart issues.
How Echocardiogram Works
Throughout the test, a small microphone-type device called a transducer gets held against the check. The transducer then sends ultrasound waves that reflect from various areas of the heart. This information gets compiled via a computer to generate an image of the heart. The image is then displayed on a monitor, and it may be printed on paper or digitally recorded.
What Does Echo Testing Show?
Echo testing helps by providing doctors with detailed information on the heart, including:
- Size – This measurement of the heart includes the thickness of the heart muscle and the chambers.
- Pumping Strength – This monitors the heart’s pump function and whether it is weakened or at full strength. It may also determine if specific parts are pumping equally.
- Valve Issues – This looks at heart valve motion to determine if there is narrowing, leaking, and how severe the issue is.
- Misc. – This test may also detect fluid presence around the heart, any masses, abnormal holes, or blood clots.
What You Can Expect
An echocardiogram may be done at the hospital or a doctor’s office with no special preparation necessary on the part of the patient. Clothing is removed at the waist, and a hospital gown or sheet is put over the patient to ensure their comfort and warmth. You do remain in a sitting position throughout the test.
There will be small sticky patches known as electrodes attached to the shoulders and chest to get accurate recordings for the electrocardiogram, also known as an ECG or EKG. this shows the electrical activity throughout the heart as the test proceeds. Patients might also be asked to breathe in slowly or hold their breath to obtain the best images.
How Long Does an Echo Take?
To have a thorough examination, you must expect between 20 minutes to an hour, depending on the patient and the type of heart issue.
Are Echocardiograms Safe?
This is a very safe test, and there have been no known risks attributed to ultrasound waves used. Patients also find this test to be painless, but there could be discomfort as the transducer gets pressed against the chest.
What are the Benefits of an Echocardiogram?
- This test gives detailed information on the structure and blood flow of the heart, all while remaining non-invasive.
- The information doctors gain during the echo helps them generate an accurate diagnosis followed by a tailored treatment plan.
- In some cases, there could be an irritation that leads to difficulty obtaining quality images. However, this is generally the case with patients that are obese, going through chronic lung disease, or have a broad chest.
What About the Results?
After the echocardiogram, the test results and images get sent to the physician immediately. They are reviewed, and the results are then on the table for any treatment plans or immediate course of action in emergent situations.
To inquire further about Cardiac Ultrasound (Echocardiography) treatment and testing in Dunedin or book your appointment, contact us at Polmed Primary Care Walk-In Clinic by calling (727) 339-2054.