An echocardiogram is a standard and straightforward process that uses sound waves to create an image of the heart. These images allow doctors to observe the heart and diagnose, evaluate and treat potential problems. At Modern Heart and Vascular, our team is committed to getting our patients the best care, including echocardiograms to address and manage their cardiac health.
What Is a Heart Ultrasound?
Your heart is the center of your cardiovascular system, but it can be difficult to get a good look at this essential organ due to its location in your chest. An echocardiogram, also known as an echo or a diagnostic cardiac ultrasound, is a way for doctors to see otherwise unobservable details of the heart.
Echos use high-frequency sound waves to create visual images of your heart, including its valves and chambers. Doctors gather valuable data from these pictures. Echocardiograms can measure changes in heart size, pumping strength, heart defects, blood clots or tumors and weakened or damaged heart muscles.
How an Echocardiogram Works
There are several types of echocardiograms. While they serve the same basic purpose, different kinds of echos employ various imaging techniques to answer questions about the heart.
Transthoracic echocardiograms are the most common type. During this process, a technician will use a wand, known as an ultrasound transducer, to send sound waves through your chest to the heart. These waves will echo back and a computer converts the collected data into an image. You may need to move around or hold your breath at times, but this is a painless procedure.
If you need an image clearer than what a standard echo provides, a transesophageal echocardiogram will give you an unobstructed look at the heart. This is a minimally invasive procedure in which a technician guides the transducer down your esophagus to get closer to your heart.
Your doctor may want to perform a stress echo to examine heart problems that only arise during physical activity. Stress echocardiograms take images of your heart while you exercise, allowing a look at how your heart functions under pressure.
What Can an Echocardiogram Detect?
Echocardiograms are useful in detecting a wide variety of heart conditions. Doctors can use the data from heart ultrasounds to assess overall heart function, determine the presence of cardiovascular diseases and check for structural abnormalities. Echos also allow you to monitor conditions over time and make decisions about potential risks and treatment plans.
Talk to a Cardiologist Today
Echocardiograms play a central role in diagnosing, treating and preventing many types of heart disease and cardiovascular issues. If you're wondering whether you need an echocardiogram, speak to a doctor about your options.
At Modern Heart and Vascular, we're eager to help you address and manage your cardiac health. Our cardiologists can help you determine if an echocardiogram is the right course of action for you. We're passionate about putting our patients first and getting you the best quality care available. Contact us online to learn more about echocardiograms and schedule an appointment today.
This article does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you need cardiovascular care, please call us at 832-644-8930.