Heart problems need to be treated promptly to lower your risk of serious complications, but they’re not always easy to detect. Having an echocardiogram done helps doctors find heart problems, so that they can be properly managed. Find out more about why you might consider having one of these tests done.
How Does an Echocardiogram Work?
An echocardiogram creates images of your heart through the use of high-frequency ultrasound waves. These sound waves bounce off of structures that are part of your heart in order to produce these images. Echocardiograms are able to take images of heart valves, blood vessels, chambers and walls, which doctors use in order to diagnose heart problems.
Reasons to Consider Getting an Echocardiogram
If your doctor is concerned about the structure of your heart or its function, you might need to have an echocardiogram done. This type of test allows doctors to examine different aspects of your heart to determine whether or not you have a heart condition that requires treatment. Echocardiograms provide information on the following:
- How large your heart is and what shape it is
- How thick the walls of your heart are and how they move
- How strong your heart is when it pumps
- Whether or not your valves are too narrow
- Whether or not you have blood leaking through the valves
- Whether or not your valves are functioning normally
- Whether or not you have any abnormal growths, such as tumors, in your valves
- Whether or not you have problems with your heart’s outer lining
- Whether or not you have abnormal holes between heart chambers
- Whether or not you have any blood clots in your heart chambers
- Whether or not you have problems with the blood vessels connected to your heart
Are Echocardiograms Safe?
Echocardiograms are considered safe tests to have. These tests do not produce any discomfort while they’re being done, and there are no known risks or side effects. An echocardiogram can ensure that any heart problems you have are detected, so that you can receive proper care.
Preparing for an Echocardiogram
There are no special instructions you have to follow before having an echocardiogram done. You do not have to avoid certain foods and beverages or stop taking certain medications before having this test done.
What to Expect During an Echocardiogram
When you have an echocardiogram done, you will typically lie down on a table and have electrodes placed on your chest. These electrodes have wires sticking out of them that are connected to an electrocardiograph machine. You might also have a special gel applied to your chest that makes it easier for sound waves to get through your skin. The technician who gives the electrocardiogram will move a transducer over your chest, which makes sound waves that are needed to create images. These images, which appear on a video monitor, are recorded and given to your doctor for examination. This test takes roughly an hour to do.
After Having an Echocardiogram
When your echocardiogram is done, your doctor will discuss the images with you if there are any areas of concern. If you do have a heart problem, your doctor will go over treatment options with you or order additional tests if needed.
If you think you could be a good candidate for an echocardiogram, please contact Boulevard Medical Healthcare for an appointment with our cardiology department.
Cam Brunson is a lifelong Bronx resident who knows the area well. He has worked in the medical industry for many years, and he is passionate about helping people find quality medical care in the Bronx. Cam is dedicated to his community, and he wants everyone to have access to the best possible medical care.